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Anews Podcast, #88 11.2.18

Sun, 11/04/2018 - 01:48

https://podcast.anarchistnews.org/index.php/2018/11/04/402/

Welcome to the anews podcast. This is episode 88 for November 2, 2018. This podcast covers anarchist activity, ideas, and conversations from the previous week on anarchistnews.org.

Editorial: Martyrs and Heroes, by chisel
TOTW: Choice or No Choice, with Aragorn! and Ariel

This podcast is the effort of many people. This episode was
sound edited by Linn O’mable
what’s new was written by jackie and narrated by chisel and Dim
Music!
1) Deathprod – Dead People’s Things
2) Justin Walter – Unseen Forces
3) Lattice – Michael 808
4) Fennesz – A Year In A Minute

The Redacted segment is by Suds, et al.
Contact us at podcast@anarchistnews.org

Tags: martyrdomheroismsuicide bombfeminismchoiceredactedpodcastcategory: Projects
Categories: News

A List of New Anarchist Zines Published by Warzone Distro

Sat, 11/03/2018 - 15:56

I'm not in the habit of posting a month to month update on newly added zines so here are some that have been published in the last couple months.

- Mapping the Fire: International Words of Solidarity with the Conspiracy of Cells of Fire

"“The following texts were translated and edited by the imprisoned members of the Conspiracy of Cells of Fire and by the comrades of Contra Info. We warmly thank them therefore, as well as the comrades A,M and E who contributed decisively in the handling of this attempt. Finally we greet the Chilean comrades from Entropia Ediciones for the version in Chile, and the comrades of Actforfreedomnow, boubour(A)s and 325 for the version in English.”

https://warzonedistro.noblogs.org/files/2017/09/mapping-the-fire_black-i...

- Beyond the “Movement” – Anarchy!

"“The collectivist message of The Coming Insurrection has little in common with insurrectional anarchy: the revolutionary theory flowing from the individual’s passionate uprising to appropriate the fullness of life for themselves, attacking all that controls and exploits, finding commonalities and affinities with others from which spring the real commune – the friends and accomplices of the guerrilla war against the totality of authoritarian society. Their insurrection may be coming, mine has come, it is an individual revolt. With no sovereign systems of morality, theory, principles or social abstractions standing above the singular individual, the nihilist­ anarchist attacks all systems, including identity and ideology systems, as obstacles to our self­ realisation. The struggle is against not only the domination of controlling social organisation and widespread tranquilisation, but also against inherited repressive programming and the force of daily life, and so our struggle is a constant tension where what we must destroy and transcend is much more obvious than where we might end up.”

https://warzonedistro.noblogs.org/files/2017/12/Beyond-The-Movement_Anar...

- Baedan: Queers Gone Wild (An excerpt from Baedan: A Journal of Queer Nihilism issue 1)

“If we can determine anything from our project of queer negativity, it is that capitalism has an unlimited capacity to tolerate and recuperate any alternative politics or artistic expression we could imagine. It is not a political negativity that we must locate in our queerness, but rather a vicious anti-politics which opposes any utopian dreams of a better future residing on the far side of a lifetime of sacrifice. Our queer negativity has nothing to do with art, but it has a great deal to do with urban insurrection, piracy, slave revolt: all those bodily struggles that refuse the future and pursue the irrationality of jouissance, enjoyment, rage, chaos. Ours is not the struggle for an alternative, because there is no alternative which can escape the ever-expanding horizons of capital. Instead we fight, hopeless, to tear our lives away from that expanding horizon and to erupt with wild enjoyment now. Anything less is our continued domestication to the rule of civilization.”

https://warzonedistro.noblogs.org/files/2017/12/Baedan_Queers-Gone-Wild.pdf

- War Against the Information Age: A Future of Mass Social Control

"The future of civilisation is an increasing merger of state and corporate power, with the new sciences as an essential ally. With war and crisis always as a pretext, the elite have declared dominion over every free individual, animal, plant and wilderness. Emerging as the omnipresent machine intelligence that forms human beings to its whims, it damages and manipulates entire continents of beings. Reflecting our emptiness and our loss, the prison-society must be fought, because the logic which it operates on is a system of closure of parameters that work by exclusion of vast amounts of alternative possibilities andpotentials. It is self-referential and non-creative; it pursues a model of progress that is the abolition of personal individuality and freedom."

https://warzonedistro.noblogs.org/files/2018/07/war-against-the-informat...

- Smashing the Petri Dish: Abbreviated Inquiry Into Abandoning the Concept of Culture

“For many, to abandon culture seems a project too daunting, shocking, and counter to what we may have always believed. But when we talk of undoing the entirety of civilization, are there questions too colossal to ask and material too compact to cut through? To dispute culture itself, and the physicality of its politicized manifestation, society, is to question civilization’s very premise, that we are controlled and manipulated by external forces that have an agenda ultimately incompatible with that of the individual, regardless of their desires (although there may be illusory moments of adaptability). Whether there are direct lines drawn to individuals or groups in power, or the rigid formation of patterns and textures over time, culture controls. It must, or it ceases to exist. Culture can be viewed as the summation of who we are as social beings, or the parameters we live within. Both are unsatisfactory for one attempting an uncivilized and unrestrained existence. If we are to live entirely different, than what seems foundational and what binds all of this (civilization) must be unglued. The imprint must be erased. The structures must be shattered, so as to open up the space for our unimpeded wild selves to roam.”

https://warzonedistro.noblogs.org/files/2018/10/Smashing-The-Petri-Dish.pdf

- Scandalous Thoughts: A Few Notes On Civil Anarchism

“To negate the role of individual action in favour of a vague conception of the “class struggle” of yesteryear is a dangerous fiction. Certainly, since it is also the project of the State to destroy the volition and value of the individual; it cannot be called revolutionary, except in the autocratic uber­-political sense of being ruled by statist apparatus – none of which desire empowered individuals or like­minded groups of individuals who want freedom.”

https://warzonedistro.noblogs.org/files/2018/10/Scandalous-Thoughts_A-Fe...

- Questioning (the authority of) Psychiatry

“Why is self-control, autonomy, such a threat to authority? Because the person who controls himself, who is his own master, has no need for an authority to be his master. This, then, renders authority unemployed. What is he to do if he cannot control others? To be sure, he could mind his own business. But this is a fatuous answer, for those who are satisfied to mind their own business do not aspire to become authorities.” -Thomas S. Szasz

https://warzonedistro.noblogs.org/files/2018/09/Questioning-Psychiatry.pdf

- In Praise of Chaos

"Anarchists are opposed to authority both from below and from above. They do not demand power for the masses, but seek to destroy all power and to decompose these masses into individuals who are masters of their own lives. Therefore anarchists are the most decisive enemies of all types of communism and those who profess to be communists or socialist cannot possibly be anarchists."

https://warzonedistro.noblogs.org/files/2018/07/In-Praise-of-Chaos.pdf

- I Am Also A Nihilist

"And if I call myself an individualist anarchist, an iconoclast and a nihilist, it is precisely because I believe that in these adjectives there is the highest and most complete expression of my willful and reckless individuality that, like an overflowing river, wants to expand, impetuously sweeping away dikes and hedges, until it crashes into a granite boulder, shattering and breaking up in its turn. I do not renounce life. I exalt and sing it.”

https://warzonedistro.noblogs.org/files/2017/09/I-Am-Also-A-Nihilist.pdf

- Fragment: Violence

“Outside of the UK many of the comrades have a much closer relationship to “violence” and “criminality” through bank robberies, organising attacks, fierce demos, stealing, fraud, counterfeiting etc. and added to that possibility the experience of clandestinity or living underground. Illegalism is the bread of the insurrection. Many have gone to prison already and we can learn about their cases in many places. In the UK there is a widespread lack of experience concerning the organisation of the attack, the recognition of the ideas and relationships of the affinity groups to the “criminal acts”. Going beyond the law is part of developing the anarchist-insurrectional project and this is part of the reason why the civil anarchists despise and neglect the cases of the imprisoned and fugitive comrades- because they reject their actions, the tendencies of attack and the global discourse of anarchists of praxis. Individual acts of violence/negation which are not approved by their group-think are regarded as part of the “criminal” or “terrorist” sphere and smeared as provocations. In this way, the civil anarchists become part of the discourse of power and compose themselves as a sector of repression.”

https://warzonedistro.noblogs.org/files/2018/10/Fragment_Violence.pdf

- Drawing First Blood

“Every attempt to free humanity en masse is bound to fail because collective self-determination is a contradiction in terms. There is no such thing as the common good, for there is no good that is common to all. Society, collective, and public are only convenient terms to designate individuals in the aggregate; they are not entities — they have no bodies, minds, interests, or real existence: A collective has no self, and is but a collection of selves who have waived their individual powers and will to self-determination, for what is claimed to be the interests of the majority. The price paid for collective unity is always the subordination of the member units, which is the antithesis of anarchy…”

https://warzonedistro.noblogs.org/files/2018/10/Drawing-First-Blood.pdf

- Decomposing the Masses: Towards Armed Individuality

“I want to weaponize chaos as an individualized attack on all governance and social order. I envision anarchy as a wildfire that blackens the civilized, domesticated kingdom of institutional and social domination. Getting free is more than just attacking capital and the state. At least for me, it also means creating your self every single day beyond society’s attempts to define you as a static being.”

https://warzonedistro.noblogs.org/files/2018/10/Decomposing-the-Masses_T...

- Vegan Means Attack: Fomenting A Wildfire Against Speciesism and Moral Anthropocentrism

“There is a war to be waged against society, alongside the non-human animals who refuse domesticated subservience, and who are evicted from their homes due to mass deforestation, human development and technology. Veganism burdened by the millstone of liberalism, fails to critically acknowledge capitalist, industrial civilization itself as the massified, embodiment of anthropocentric domination. Anarchism that fails to challenge speciesism on an individual level reproduces the internalized authoritarian values of human domination. Since speciesism is pervasive in society, it is insulated and well preserved by a comforting normalization – a normalization that aids cultural indoctrination and apathy. Confrontation is necessary in unsettling the socially established comforts and moral order of non-human animal domination.”

https://warzonedistro.noblogs.org/files/2018/10/Vegan-Means-Attack.pdf

- Veganism From A Nihilist and Anti-Civilization Perspective

“This text is aiming for the destabilization of the term veganism through moral and social, even political chains and illustrates that if it doesn’t align with a totally hostile consciousness towards the existent, then it doesn’t cease to be another hoax or delusion. That is to say if the persons using this tool have made that another morality or don’t take some risks with acts of attack (this can take many forms not only physical) or chaotic disruption then it remains mud inside the swamp where it came from.” -Archegonos

https://warzonedistro.noblogs.org/files/2018/08/Veganism-From-A-Nihilist...

- Weaponizing Sobriety: Feral Anarchy Against Intoxication Culture

“As an anarchist, I refuse to tranquilize the chaos of my jouissance with inebriation. I exalt life vehemently against the pacifying qualities of marijuana, the cancerous addiction of tobacco, and the “correctional” anesthesia of psychiatric medications. The intoxication-based realities of poverty, addiction, and death motivate my personal desire to remain sober and supportive of those struggling. As long as I exist, my sobriety remains a weapon against capitalism, a weapon which can not be confiscated by the social conformity essential to intoxication culture. Towards individualist revolt and a straight edge anarchist praxis, straight edge means attack.”

https://warzonedistro.noblogs.org/files/2018/10/Weaponizing-Sobriety_Fer...

****New zines that are still in the works and will be available for download by early next month:

- To The Customers: Insurrection and Doublespeak (A critique of The Coming Insurrection & Invisible Committee)
- Against The Gendered Nightmare (Baedan) (Anti-civ and nihilist critique of gender)
- INSURGENCY: An Anarchist Journal of Total Destruction (a collection of fresh written post-left, nihilist, anti-civ insurrectionary anarchist essays and actions)

www.warzonedistro.noblogs.org

Tags: post-left anarchyinsurrectionnihilismveganismstraight edgeradical sobrietyindividualismgreen anarchyanti-civilizationzinesand more zinescategory: Other
Categories: News

The Hotwire #43: October 31, 2018

Sat, 11/03/2018 - 15:43

From CrimethInc.

Interviews: Anarchist Jews on Tree of Life massacre—Brazil: Bolsonaro wins

Rate us on iTunes and let us know what you think, or send us an email to podcast@crimethinc.com.

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Full Episode Transcript

Summary

No news is good news. 60% of wildlife has been wiped off the planet since 1970. Mexican police kill a man in the migrant caravan on the border with Guatemala. Ever since Trump openly declared himself a nationalist last week, there has been an escalation of far-right violence. We interview an anarchist who works at the Tree of Life synagogue where an anti-Semite massacred 11 people on Saturday, as well as two people in the Outlive Them network about the upcoming International Days of Action against Fascism and Anti-Semitism. We also draw connections between the election of Bolsonaro in Brazil and anarchist resistance to Trump and democracy itself in the United States. Send us news, events, or ideas on how our show can better serve anarchist activity in your town by emailing us at podcast@crimethinc.com.

Notes and Links
  • Table of Contents:
    • Introduction {0:00}
    • Headlines {1:12}
    • Tree of Life massacre {5:10}
    • Bolsonaro, democracy, elections {24:00}
    • Resistance roundup {33:50}
    • Repression roundup {37:50}
    • Next Week’s News {43:15}
  • Download 29:30 minutes long version.

  • The latest episode of Sub.Media’s webseries Trouble deals with the J20 protests and ensuing legal battle. If anyone out there can help translate the subtitles to Brazilian Portuguese, we know that comrades there would appreciate it! E-mail us at podcast[at]crimethinc[dot]com.

  • Upcoming events/demos/etc:
    • November 2: A call for counter protests against Steve Bannon and David Frum in Toronto. Meet at 5pm outside Ray Thomson Hall located at 60 Simcoe St.
    • November 6: an anti-ICE march in Portland, Oregon at 6pm. Meet at City Hall and check out @OccupyICEPDX on twitter for more information.
    • November 8–11: International Days of Action against Fascism and Anti-Semitism, including this action in New York City on November 10.
    • November 10: A call for counter demos against PEGIDA’s anti-Muslim and anti-refugee demonstration, also in Toronto. Meet at 12pm in Mel Lastman Square.
    • November 16–18: School of the Americas Watch is hosting a border encuentro directly on the US/Mexico border in Nogales, Arizona and Sonora.
    • November 17: A Stand Against Proud Boys action in Philadelpha, to counter Proud Boys who are planning to attend a rally called We the People. Meet at Washington Square Park at 6th and Walnut Streets.
  • Upcoming anarchist book fairs and gatherings:
  • More about the unpermitted crowd that forced Trump’s motorcade to turn around in Pittsburgh.

  • The Claws of Empire, the Rise of Fascism: Brazilian Anarchist Statement on Bolsonaro

  • Another anarchist perspective on the upcoming midterm elections.

  • Mutual Aid Disaster Relief are still looking for accomplices in their autonomous relief work in North Carolina, as well as supplies. They need:
  • Mutual Aid Disaster Relief is on tour until late November! This week’s dates:
    • October 31: Olympia, WA. 3:00 pm PDT @ Evergreen State College, 2700 Evergreen Parkway NW, Olympia, WA 98505
    • November 1: Seattle, WA. 7:00 pm PDT @ Pipsqueak Gallery, 173 16th Ave Seattle, WA 98122
    • November 6: Fort Collins, CO. 7:00 pm MST @ Poudre Valley Public Library, 201 Peterson St, Fort Collins, CO 80524
    • November 7: Fort Collins, CO. 4:00 pm MST @ Cafe Foco, 201 Peterson St, Fort Collins, CO 80524
    • A complete list of tour dates and locations can be found here.
  • Duluth, Minnesota: Anti-fascist and anti-white supremacy People’s General Assemblies will be taking place weekly, Tuesdays at 6 PM in People’s Power Plaza

  • Political Prisoner Malik Washington has announced a hunger strike, not only against his conditions, but also against police brutality on streets and inside prison walls, against prison slavery, and against patriarchy and imperialism. If you’d like to send him written messages of support, you can write him at:

    Keith H. Washington #1487958

    McConnell Unit

    3100 South Emily Drive

    Beeville, TX 78103

  • Write a letter to anarchist prisoner Eric King at:

    Eric King

    # 27090045

    USP LEAVENWORTH

    U.S. PENITENTIARY

    P.O. BOX 1000

    LEAVENWORTH, KS 66048

  • Rashid Johnson, a revolutionary prisoner who is a founding member, and Minister of Defense, of the Prison Chapter of the New Afrikan Black Panther Party, is asking for your help! As de facto retribution for his relentless activism and exposure of the prison system, Rashid is being held in awful repressive conditions. Especially importantly, he takes medication for his blood pressure and the prison is withholding his medicine. Supporters can call Warden Beth Cabell, any day other than Friday, at (804) 834–2678. The focus should be on his medical emergency, as Rashid needs to have his blood pressure checked in order for any adjustments to be made to his medications.

  • A trans woman of color and water protector was arrested on bogus charges in Louisiana on last week. She has since been released, but you can still donate to the ongoing fight at Gofundme.com/NoBBP.

  • In the Philippines, Food Not Bombs volunteer Marco is still in prison awaiting trial on drug charges. His supporters vehemently maintain that he had drugs planted on him and that he is being framed. You can donate to his legal fund here.

  • Friends of Tim Brown Jr are raising legal funds on his behalf for charges he incurred while in jail after being arrested in Charlottesville. The new charges are for allegedly beating up James Fields, the neo-Nazi who murdered Heather Heyer. If you have a few bucks, here’s the link to his gofundme.

  • Use this straightforward guide to writing prisoners from New York City Anarchist Black Cross to write a birthday message for Ed Poindexter, who celebrates a birthday next week:

    Ed Poindexter

    #27767

    Nebraska State Penitentiary

    Post Office Box 2500

    Lincoln, Nebraska 68542

    {Birthday: November 1}


  • Sales are OPEN for the 2019 Certain Days: Freedom for Political Prisoners calendar! The theme of next year’s calendar is Health/Care, and it features art and writing from current and former political prisoners like David Gilbert, Mike and Chuck Africa, and Laura Whitehorn. If you buy 10 or more, be sure to use the discount code “BULK” to get 10 or more calendars for $10 each—you can then sell the calendars to fundraise for your own organizing.

Tags: Crimethinc.podcastthe hotwirecategory: Projects
Categories: News

Paul Avrich’s An American Anarchist: The Life of Voltairine de Cleyre | A Review

Sat, 11/03/2018 - 15:02

From San Diego Free Press By Mel Freilicher

The self-professed group of anarchists who comprise AK Press, a worker-run collective which publishes and distributes radical books, visual and audio media, has done a great service by reissuing Paul Avrich’s fascinating study of an American original. As Robert Helms suggests in his instructive Foreword outlining Avrich’s own background and achievements as the premier scholar of American anarchism until his death in 2006, this author “succeeded in rescuing this brilliant and compelling person from near non-existence.”

Avrich himself accounts for the relative lack of scholarly attention paid to de Cleyre, partly due to her early death in 1912 at age 45: missing WW1, the Russian Revolution, and the Spanish Civil War. A significant and popular orator, voluminous author of poetry and essays in many left-wing periodicals, and “the apostle of anarchism to the Jewish immigrants of the Philadelphia ghetto” (she learned to read and some extent to speak, write and translate the Yiddish language), Voltairine nevertheless avoided the limelight—“shrank from notoriety.” Though well known among American anarchists, she played a minor role in the international movement, traveling only twice to Europe, where she was befriended by Peter Kropotkin, and Louise Michel.

Born the year after the Civil War ended, Voltairine grew up in a small Michigan town. Both her parents were from rebellious families. Her father, Hector de Claire, named his daughter after Voltaire (she later changed the spelling of her last name). Having left his socialist family in France at age 18 for the U.S., Hector, along with his brother, fought for the North in the Civil War, for which they received American citizenship. Harriet de Claire was of old New England Puritan stock; her father had been an abolitionist in upper New York State.

From both parents, Voltairine inherited “a strong will, a stubborn nature, and keen intellect.” But little else. The family was impoverished, and her formal education stopped at 17, after more than 3 years in a Catholic convent which she described as the darkest and saddest of her life—a term of “incarceration.” At crippling expense to her freethinking father he, nevertheless, felt this was the best education available; one, which he wrote to his wife, would cure Voltai (as the family called her) of “laziness, a love of idleness, also love of trash such as Story Books.”

During the next few years, Voltairine threw her energies into the free thought movement, and remained a lifelong secularist and anti-Catholic: in growing demand as a lecturer, she also continued to write for many free thought periodicals long after atheism as her primary ideological commitment was replaced by anarchism—in itself composed of a striking variety of individuals and groups, communists and syndicalists, pacifists and revolutionaries, idealists, and adventurers. Both the anarchist and free thought movements shared a common anti-authoritarian viewpoint, their radicalism stretching back to Thomas Paine and Robert Owen.

Like many radicals of her era, her conversion was chiefly caused by the infamous execution of four anarchists framed for the bombing at the Haymarket Square mass protest: the day before, police had fired into a crowd of strikers at the McCormick Reaper Works, killing several men. Demonstrably, none of the 8 accused anarchists were responsible; 6 of them weren’t even present at the Square.

Voltairine was 19 at the time. Several years later, she moved to Philadelphia where she lived the greater part of her adult life. Several young Jewish anarchist immigrants, cigar and textile workers, asked for help with their English, and she began tutoring them after they came home from the factory. Her increasing clientele provided a meager income, augmented by lessons on piano, and on occasion, in French and mathematics (all thanks to her convent education).

Throughout these years, de Cleyre lived and worked mostly with Jews. She had hundreds of Jewish comrades, hundreds of Jewish pupils, at least two Jewish lovers, and spent her last two years in Chicago living with a Jewish couple.

Her 1903 essay, “The Making of an Anarchist,” a panegyric on Jews, states: “I have myself seen such genuine heroism in the cause of education…as would pass the limits of belief to the ordinary mind. Cold, starvation, self-isolation, all endured for years in order to obtain the means for study; and worse than all, exhaustion of body even to emaciation…Yet so fervent is the social imagination of the young that most of them find time besides to visit the various clubs and societies where radical thought is discussed, and sooner or later to ally themselves” with one or more of them.

Voltairine could be describing herself here. Indeed, a near starvation diet was considered to be a factor in her early death. Self-sacrifice and asceticism are salient traits in what Avrich reiterates was a largely joyless life. “Not that she was incapable of happiness,” he writes in his Introduction. “In her youth, her letters sparked with gaiety, and she was in general more animated and cheerful than she is sometimes depicted…Yet humor was not one of her notable attributes. For her life was touched by sadness, at times outright calamity, to allow more than temporary relief from her melancholy.”

Much of this biography fills in these sad details. Abruptly abandoned by her first love after several months, “her pain and disillusionment were shattering.” A few years later, Voltairine cut off the long hair which streamed down to her feet, and began to dress more plainly. Subsequent love affairs were never satisfactory. At one point, she and a man whom she’d put through medical school quarreled so bitterly they both took poison afterwards. Toward the end of her life, in ill health—compounded by being shot in 3 places by a former, disgruntled student—she again tried suicide, with an overdose of morphine.

Voltairine’s deepest bond was with Dyer Lum for 5 years, an accomplished writer and theoretician 27 years her senior, whom she called “her teacher, her confidante and comrade.” They were at least intermittent lovers, but always lived apart. Also a native American with ancestral roots in puritanism and abolitionism, Lum had joined the Union army, and escaped twice from Confederate prisons. “Under Lum’s tutelage, her mind developed, her outlook broadened her understanding of anarchism matured and ultimately crystallized into a coherent philosophy.”

Unlike Voltairine, Lum believed in anarchism by action. His failure to carry out a planned terrorist attack to avenge the Haymarket martyrs was one factor which led to his depression, and ultimate suicide by poison. Voltairine’s own attitude toward violence distinctly shifted after President McKinley was assassinated by a self-proclaimed anarchist, Leon Czolgosz, in 1901.

Having been sharply critical of McKinley’s expansionist policies in the Caribbean and the Pacific, de Cleyre regretted Czolgosz’ actions mainly because of the repression that inevitably followed. In Emma Goldman’s important publication, Mother Earth, Voltairine wrote, “The hells of capitalism create the desperate; the desperate act—desperately!” The wonder, therefore, is not that there should be some who strike back, but that there are not more.

Avrich illuminates the fundamental contrast of de Cleyre and Goldman who had much in common but were antithetical temperamentally. Comrades at first, Goldman was scheduled to speak in Philadelphia in 1883, but was arrested when she stepped on the platform. Voltairine, ill at the time from what had been diagnosed as “catarrh” since childhood, rose to deliver a rousing protest against the suppression of free speech. Having visited Emma when she was imprisoned on Blackwell’s Island, Voltairine participated in fundraising efforts on her behalf.

But in 1892, when Goldman’s lover, Alexander Berkman, shot Henry Frick, Andrew Carnegie’s right hand man and chief strike breaker, Voltairine was still in the camp which repudiated such actions. Although Emma continued to publish Voltairine in Mother Earth (including a posthumous issue devoted to her works), the rift between them never really healed.

Their oratorical styles are contrasted here: Emma was flamboyant and dramatic, de Cleyre “a more versatile craftsman” whose speeches were carefully written and read aloud: “I have not a tongue of fire as Emma Goldman has,” she once said. “I cannot ‘stir the people’: I must speak in my own cold, calculated way.”

Voltairine “was a true believer, a puritan who resented Emma Goldman’s ‘bourgeois extravagance,’” criticizing her tendency to stay in expensive hotels and eat expensive meals. Goldman replied, “I did not believe that a Cause which stood for a beautiful ideal, for anarchism, for release from convention and prejudice, should demand the denial of life and joy.”

Quite revealing are their different approaches to the celebration of Peter Kropotkin’s 70th birthday for which Mother Earth announced a special issue. Despite her admiration of the man, Voltairine wrote a friend, “About Kropotkin’s birthday, I really can’t enthuse. But I suppose that’s what our dilettantes have to have: birthdays, parties, concerts–anything lackadaisical and safe!”

During the spring of 1911, Voltairine’s despairing spirits were lifted by the swelling revolution in Mexico, which she enthusiastically supported in writing and speeches, especially the revolt in Baja California and the revolutionary communes which were established in Mexicali and Tijuana, taking for their theoretical basis Kropotkin’s Conquest of Bread.

Voltairine de Cleyre died soon afterwards, and was buried in Chicago beside the Haymarket martyrs. For the next few years, memorials were held in multiple cities. Avrich ends his study by quoting Will Duff’s tribute in a Glasgow ceremony: “Voltairine, I am pleased to have been your friend and comrade, for you were one of the bravest, truest, and sweetest women that ever lived. You need no stone nor funeral bell; you are tombed in the true hearts that loved you well.”

Tags: Voltairine De Cleyrereviewpaul avrichHistorybookscategory: Essays
Categories: News

A call for solidarity: The libertarian cultural centre of Almada

Sat, 11/03/2018 - 14:30

From Autonomies

Anarchist social centres constitute fragile points of passage for anti-capitalist archipelagos of resistance. There fragility is born of the (ever increasing) restrictions of private property and State opposition. Yet they are often the only link to rebellious pasts and radical presents: they are the vehicles of radical thought and practices, the precious islands of different futures struggling against and creating beyond the violence of the present.

The Centro de Cultura Libertária of Cacilhas-Almada, Portugal is the oldest anarchist cultural centre in Iberia; a centre whose space is now threatened by rampant real-estate speculation. From the CCL, we share their urgent call for solidarity.

The CCL needs your support!

The Centro de Cultura Libertária, an anarchist association with 44 years of activity in Cacilhas-Almada, Portugal, is again threatened. The continued pressure of the real estate business, the change in the rental law and the gentrification that forces the departure of residents from the central spaces of cities, the destruction of non-profit spaces or the closure of neighborhood stores, now also touches the CCL.

What is happening?

This is not the first time that the CCL’s permanence in its historic headquarters has been called into question.

Between 2009 and 2011 the Centro de Cultura Libertária resisted an eviction procedure initiated by the landlord. Only the solidarity of many collectives and individuals here and beyond allowed us to face the costs of the judicial process, which led to two trials and one appeal. In the end, we reached a rent increase agreement that allowed us to continue in the space without changes in the duration of the contract.

However, in 2014, as a result of the changes in the rent law in favor of property owners’ interests, the CCL contract duration was set at five years. At the end of 2018, we have reached the point where, as has happened to thousands of tenants, the continuation of the rent of our space will be at the mercy of the owner’s will and the conditions that he wants to impose on us.

Why support the CCL?

The CCL is an anarchist cultural centre founded in 1974 by old libertarian militants who resisted the dictatorship, occupying since then the space rented at number 121 Rua Candido dos Reis, in Cacilhas-Almada. The Center has a unique library and archive in Portugal, with documents produced over the last hundred years, as well as a bookshop promoting libertarian culture. It has been a fundamental space for anarchism in Portugal, welcoming successive generations of libertarians. During its existence, the Center hosted numerous activities, such as debates, meetings, reading circles, video sessions, workshops, dinners and various learning workshops, and served as home to many libertarian groups and collectives. Different publications came out of the space, such as the Voz Anarquista in the 1970s, Antithesis in the 1980s, the Anarchist Information Bulletin in the 1990s, and Húmus magazine in the first decade of this century.

As an anarchist association, the functioning of the CCL’s internal organisation is horizontal and is based on the assembly of its members, where decisions are made and the tasks inherent to the life of the association are distributed. Participation in the CCL is always voluntary, unpaid and non-profit. The only sources of funding are membership fees, the bookstore, dinners and solidarity donations.

What future for the CCL?

We do not want the Centro de Cultura Libertária to end! We want it to continue to exist as an active libertarian association for many years!

But at the moment the future of the CCL is open: it can remain in the same space, paying a much higher rent, or move to a new space, where we would try to have better conditions for our activities, but where expenses will also be higher.

In both cases, and given the conditions imposed by the current housing market bubble, we know that we will need financial means that we do not have. For this reason, we will start a fundraising campaign, which will include crowdfunding, concerts, dinners and other initiatives.

We count on your solidarity support so that together we can guarantee a future for the CCL.

Center for Libertarian Culture
October 2018

C.C.L. bank account details for donations
Holder: CENTRO DE CULTURA LIBERTÁRIA
IBAN: PT50003501790000215493029
(Bank: Caixa Geral de Depósitos)

Contacts
E-mail: ateneu2000@gmail.com
Mail: Apartado 40 / 2800-801 Almada – Portugal
http://culturalibertaria.blogspot.com
www.facebook.com/CulturaLibertariaCentro

The website for the crowdfunding effort can be found here. For the Centre’s blog, click here.

The original portuguese language statement from the CCL.

O CCL precisa do teu apoio!

O Centro de Cultura Libertária, associação anarquista com 44 anos de actividade em Cacilhas-Almada, encontra-se novamente ameaçado. A contínua pressão do negócio imobiliário, a alteração da lei das rendas e a gentrificação que impõem a saída de moradores dos lugares centrais das cidades, a destruição de espaços sem fins lucrativos ou o encerramento das lojas de bairro, atingem agora também o CCL.

O que se passa?

Não é a primeira vez que a permanência do CCL na sua sede histórica é posta em causa.
Entre 2009 e 2011 o Centro de Cultura Libertária resistiu contra um processo de despejo movido pelo senhorio. Apenas a solidariedade de muitos colectivos e indivíduos aqui e além fronteiras nos permitiu fazer frente aos custos do processo judicial, que acarretou dois julgamentos e um recurso. No final, chegámos a um acordo de aumento de renda que nos permitiu continuar no espaço sem alterações na duração do contrato.
No entanto, em 2014, fruto das mudanças na lei das rendas a favor dos interesses dos proprietários, a duração do contrato do CCL passou para um prazo de cinco anos. Chegamos agora, no final de 2018, à altura em que, tal como vem acontecendo a milhares de inquilinos, a continuação do arrendamento do nosso espaço ficará à mercê da vontade do proprietário e das condições que este nos quiser impor.

Porquê apoiar o CCL?

O CCL é um ateneu cultural anarquista fundado em 1974 por velhos militantes libertários que resistiram à ditadura, ocupando desde então o espaço arrendado no número 121 da Rua Cândido dos Reis, em Cacilhas. O Centro possui uma biblioteca e um arquivo únicos em Portugal, com documentos produzidos ao longo dos últimos cem anos, assim como uma distribuidora de cultura libertária. Tem sido um espaço fundamental para o anarquismo em Portugal acolhendo sucessivas gerações de libertários. Durante a sua existência, o Centro acolheu inúmeras actividades, tais como debates, encontros, círculos de leitura, sessões de vídeo, oficinas, jantares ou diversas oficinas de aprendizagem, e serviu de casa a muitos grupos e colectivos libertários. Diferentes publicações aqui se editaram, como a Voz Anarquista nos anos 70, a Antítese nos anos 80, o Boletim de Informações Anarquista nos anos 90 e a revista Húmus na primeira década deste século.
Enquanto associação anarquista, o funcionamento do CCL é horizontal e tem por base a assembleia de sócios, onde são tomadas as decisões e distribuídas as tarefas inerentes à vida da associação. A participação no CCL é sempre feita de forma voluntária, não-remunerada e sem fins lucrativos. As únicas fontes de financiamento são as quotas dos associados, as receitas da livraria e dos jantares e os donativos solidários.

Que futuro para o CCL?

Não queremos que o Centro de Cultura Libertária acabe! Queremos que continue a existir enquanto associação libertária activa por muitos anos!
Mas neste momento o futuro do CCL está em aberto: pode passar pela permanência no mesmo local, pagando uma renda bem mais elevada, ou pela mudança para um novo espaço, onde procuraríamos ter melhores condições para as nossas actividades, mas onde as despesas serão também mais elevadas.
Em ambos os casos, e face às condições impostas pela actual bolha do mercado imobiliário, sabemos que vamos precisar de meios financeiros de que não dispomos. Por este motivo, vamos iniciar uma campanha de angariação de fundos, que incluirá um crowfunding, concertos, jantares e outras iniciativas.
Contamos com o teu apoio solidário para que juntos possamos garantir um futuro para o CCL.

Centro de Cultura Libertária
Outubro de 2018

Dados da conta bancária do C.C.L. para donativos
Titular: CENTRO DE CULTURA LIBERTÁRIA
IBAN: PT50003501790000215493029
(Banco: Caixa Geral de Depósitos)

Contactos
E-mail: ateneu2000@gmail.com
Correio: Apartado 40 / 2800-801 Almada – Portugal
http://culturalibertaria.blogspot.com
www.facebook.com/CentroDeCulturaLibertaria/

Tags: portugalinfoshopsocial centersolidarityeuropecategory: International
Categories: News

Anarchist Zines & Pamphlets Published in October

Sat, 11/03/2018 - 14:17

From Sprout Distro

The following zines and pamphlets were published within the broad anarchist space over the previous month. As always, they come from a variety of different perspectives and contexts. We encourage folks to engage with the texts or to help spread them as they see fit.

Past versions of these posts can be found here. A few hundred other zines can be found on our site as well. If you have suggestions for zines to include next month, let us know.

Anarchist Zines and Pamphlets – October 2018

The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas + The Day Before the Revolution

le guin zineThis zine compiled by the Chicago Anarchist Black Cross collects two short stories by the anarchist author Ursula K. LeGuin. “The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas” comes from the 1973 collection of short stories The Wind’s Twelve Quarters, while “The Day Before the Revolution” is taken from the introduction the classic The Dispossessed. Ursula K. LeGuin passed away earlier this year. For those not familiar with her work, this piece from Fifth Estate provides a good introduction.

Download a Printable or Screen Reading PDF

Dark Nights #47

dark nights #47 coverThis is the October 2018 issue of Dark Nights, a publication that promotes anarchist insurrection. This issue features a “Direct Action Chronology” listing anarchist activity since July alongside a number of different communiques. There are also longer articles critical of eco-extremism, the development of cities, and CCTV cameras and public surveillance. There’s also a nice short “More Than Words” section that explains in just a few sentences their perspective: anarchist, informal, and anti-civilization.

Download the PDF

Rebellion and Possibility: Voices in the Anti-ICE Struggle, Vol. 2

rebellion and possibility vol 2 coverThis is the second volume of writings compiled by the Radical Education Department on the anti-ICE struggles. This time the writings are organized based on location, with writings detailing experiences in Philadelphia, Portland, Tacoma, Atlanta, and Louisville. It’s a good assortment of writings and will hopefully help preserve the memory of these events for the future. The collection is introduced by the essay “Roots of Anti-Immigrant Policy in the United States” that gives the struggle some context.

Download the Printable or Screen Reading PDF

The Secret World of Duvbo

secret world of duvbo coverFrom the Crimethinc announcement of the zine version (also worth reading for the story of how this spread hand to hand for years):

“A secret children’s book passed from hand to hand, invisible to the market. After a decade and a half, we’re finally offering a zine version of The Secret World of Duvbo, the companion to our other children’s book, The Secret World of Terijian. This is a story about the furtive outlets we create for the parts of ourselves that do not fit into our ordinary lives—about the potential for transformation hidden within seemingly staid and conservative communities—about how the courage of one can become the courage of all.”

Download the PDF

Rupture: Autumn 2018

rupture zine coverRupture is a European zine “centred around DIY culture – free parties, squats, social centres, art and activism.” This issue features a mix of writings under that broad heading with updates on squats, calls for solidarity, updates on various campaigns, and announcements of various cultural events. For readers outside of Europe it gives a nice glimpse into a very different political and cultural scene.

Download the PDF

To Change Everything

to change everything coverCrimethinc has mailed out their entire 150,000 copy print run of their introduction to anarchism titled “To Change Everything”. It was an ambitious project and a solid effort aimed at explaining anarchism to the uninitiated. It was translated into several other languages as well, resulting in an estimated 240,000 copies being put into circulation. Now folks can continue to distribute it – or even better – create their own projects to surpass it.

Download a Printable (Black & white or Color) or Screen Reading PDF

Step Into the Unknown

step into the unknown coverThis is a cut-and-paste anarchist zine that in many ways feels more like a classic “zine” than most of the stuff that anarchists publish. It’s heavy on the gray scale distortion, type written fonts, and detourned images. It has a passion and intensity that is often missing from the polished manifestos that are more typical these days.

Download the PDF

Tags: zinesSprout distroreviewpdfcategory: Projects
Categories: News

Russia: Free the “Network” Prisoners

Sat, 11/03/2018 - 13:09

Note from the Russian Reader:

Once upon a time in another fairy tale kingdom, I made a silly resolution that I would grow a beard and keep it until my sisters and brothers in HERE Locals 34 and 35 won their strike against Yale University and got a new contract.

The strike ended ages ago, and the unions won their contract, but I still have the beard.

This testifies to something perverse about me, but that’s neither here nor there.

I’ve made a similar resolution in connection with the horrifying grand guignol known as the Network case a.k.a. the Penza-Petersburg “terrorism” case.

I won’t stop writing and translating articles about it until the story breaks through the seemingly impenetrable barrier that has so far kept it almost entirely invisible in the international press. I won’t stop translating and posting articles about it until the dozen innocent young men caught up in this tale of torture and justice travestied every way to Sunday are cleared of all charges and released from prison.

So far, I’ve published 54 stories about the case and other cases that shed light on the current mess in Russia, a mess that makes it way too easy for things like this to happen.

Fifty-four is not a round number nor, apparently, has it been enough.

But since Katya Kosarevskaya and Yana Teplitskaya—two young mathematicians who serve on the Petersburg Public Commission for Monitoring Conditions in Places of Incarceration and essentially opened the window on this case and a lot of other unsavory practices in Petersburg’s jails and the dungeons of the Petersburg FSB—have more solidarity and fight in them than all the rest of us combined, it’s the least I can do to keep on doing what I do best.

Feel free to join me, whatever you think about my perverse character.

Despite what you might think, in reality the Putin regime and its police state minions really, really hate publicity when it comes to their misdeeds and crimes. Publicizing the Network case and showing solidarity with Viktor Filinkov, Yuli Boyarshinov and the other framed and tortured suspects in the case will, in fact, help keep them safe and, ultimately, lead to their exoneration.

It’s not a matter of faith. It’s a matter of numbers, effort, and time.

convoyed
How is the all-too-common Russian verb etapirovat’ translated into English? Screenshot of the relevant page from the website dic.academic.ru

Convoyed
by Yekaterina Kosarevskaya (original post in Russian)
30 October 2018 (original post in English)

Viktor Filinkov has arrived in Petersburg. He’s now in Remand Prison No. 4 on Lebedev Street, but apparently he will be transferred from there to Remand Prison No. 3 on Shpalernaya Street. Yana Teplitskaya and I chatted with him for two hours until lights out.

And yesterday Roma and I chatted with Yuli Boyarshinov.

Viktor’s in a very sad state, healthwise.

He took ill at every stop along the way during his convoy without having recovered from the previous stop. In Yaroslavl on Friday, before the last leg of his journey, Viktor was suddenly unable to walk. He doesn’t understand what it could have been, and he has never had anything like it before. His cellmates summoned the doctor. Viktor was taken to the dispensary. He was brought to his senses with smelling salts, given an injection of something, and left there until it was time to go.

It took three days for Viktor to get to Petersburg. They were on the road from Saturday to Tuesday, traveling only at night. During the day, the train car in which he was convoyed stood unheated and idle on the tracks.

He says he was really glad to go to Penza and hang out with [all the other prisoners in the Network case], although he did not enjoy the trip itself. The Penza Remand Prison was at such pains to show that none of the suspects in the Network case were being tortured anymore that every evening all ten suspects were inspected. They were forced to strip and undergo a full look-over, after which they were told to sign their names in a notebook. Viktor got tired of signing his name, so he took to drawing smileys, but no one followed his lead.

I wonder what it will mean when the wardens stop keeping this notebook.

Viktor told us about other remand prisons as well. He told us about Larissa the rat. He thought one inmate had made friends with her, but then he woke up and, finding the rat at the foot of his bed, moved to a top bunk.

It transpired that the censor at the Nizhny Novgorod Remand Prison expunged not only the phrase “Public Monitoring Commission” from Yana’s letters but everything else he found unfamiliar, including “vegan,” “Homo sapiens,” and “transhumanism.”

Viktor also told us Yegor Skovoroda had written to him in a postcard that he was a nudnik. Viktor wrote a three-page letter proving it wasn’t the case, but then he thought better of it and didn’t mail the letter.

Yana and I tried to recall the latest news. We told Viktor about Saturday’s protest rallies, about our latest report, about who had
successfully defended their dissertation (it wasn’t me), and who still hadn’t defended their dissertation and could thus invite Viktor to their defense (that would be me).

Yuli is in Remand Prison No. 3 on Shpalernaya Street and is fine. The only thing is that the prison’s censor has again gone on holiday, so Yuli doesn’t get any letters. So far he hasn’t received a single letter in Shpalernaya.

The censor at Remand Prison No. 4 has also gone on holiday.

UPDATE: I forgot to write that when we were traveling to Remand Prison No. 3 yesterday, Yana and I agreed that if I found out Viktor was there, I would exit the prison and telephone her so that she could travel there, too. I was worried I would waste a lot of time getting my telephone out of the box at the entrance to the prison, turning it on, and entering all the passwords. It transpired that Viktor was not there, but someone had made sure I didn’t waste any time. My telephone was turned on, and the password entry window was on the screen.

Translated by the Russian Reader

* * *

What can you do to support the Penza and Petersburg antifascists and anarchists tortured and imprisoned by the FSB?

Donate money to the Anarchist Black Cross via PayPal (abc-msk@riseup.net). Make sure to specify your donation is earmarked
for “Rupression.”

Spread the word about the Network Case aka the Penza-Petersburg “terrorism” case. You can find more information about the case and in-depth articles translated into English on this website (see below), rupression.com, and openDemocracyRussia.

Organize solidarity events where you live to raise money and publicize the plight of the tortured Penza and Petersburg antifascists. Go to the website It’s Going Down to find printable posters and flyers you can download. You can also read more about the case there.

If you have the time and means to design, produce, and sell solidarity merchandise, please write to rupression@protonmail.com.

Write letters and postcards to the prisoners. Letters and postcards must be written in Russian or translated into Russian. You can find the addresses of the prisoners here.

Design a solidarity postcard that can be printed and used by others to send messages of support to the prisoners. Send your ideas to rupression@protonmail.com.

Write letters of support to the prisoners’ loved ones via rupression@protonmail.com.

Translate the articles and information at rupression.com and this website into languages other than Russian and English, and publish your translations on social media and your own websites and blogs.

If you know someone famous, ask them to record a solidarity video, write an op-ed piece for a mainstream newspaper or write letters to the prisoners.

If you know someone who is a print, internet, TV or radio journalist, encourage them to write an article or broadcast a report about the case. Write to rupression@protonmail.com or the email listed on this website, and we will be happy to arrange interviews and provide additional information.

It is extremely important this case break into the mainstream media both in Russia and abroad. Despite their apparent brashness, the FSB and their ilk do not like publicity. The more publicity the case receives, the safer our comrades will be in remand prison from violence at the hands of prison stooges and torture at the hands of the FSB, and the more likely the Russian authorities will be to drop the case altogether or release the defendants for time served if the case ever does go to trial.

Why? Because the case is a complete frame-up, based on testimony obtained under torture and mental duress. When the complaints filed by the accused reach the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg and are examined by actual judges, the Russian government will again be forced to pay heavy fines for its cruel mockery of justice.

https://antidotezine.com/2018/11/02/free-the-network-prisoners/?fbclid=I...

Tags: Russiaanarchists in troublea notetranslationthe stateRepressioncategory: International
Categories: News

Lessons Regarding Warfare: On Confronting J20 Repression

Sat, 11/03/2018 - 13:05

From It's Going Down

A critical and at times biting look back on the fight against J20 repression. This text will hopefully lead to more reflections, responses, and above all – critical reflection as we look back and assess our own activity.

I’m a former J20 defendant.

Off the bat, I want to say that I only speak for myself. I’ve learned this is important. No one has permission to speak for me, and I don’t permit myself to speak for anyone else. I think this is the common mistake made by “organizations” of any form, all these tiny Leviathans that pick up this or that cause, on behalf of such and such people: their project is still representation, the creation of subjects and sovereigns, still business as usual. In the end, I think they manage our struggles for us.

Our struggles need to be direct. They have to emerge directly from within our own lives, our particular situations, and we need to embrace a willingness to confront them. No one is coming to liberate us but ourselves. I think this is a good thing however, it means there’s no one to wait for.

I’m not going to discuss what happened on January 20th, 2017. The majority of ex-defendants had their charges dismissed without prejudice, and in addition to possibly placing them at risk, recounting a few (allegedly) shattered windows during a largely symbolic protest doesn’t mean nearly as much to me as the last eighteen months of concentrated, intense state repression.

These reflections are about that time and that repression: what I’ve seen and done; the spaces, projects, bonds, and communities that have forged me into a lifelong practitioner of anarchy; the ideological bullshit I’ve peeled away from “anarchism” and the weapons I’ve found hidden beneath; the lessons I’ve learned for future battles.

A lot of this is about what I felt I did wrong. I think that’s perfectly fine. I think we need to reflect upon and share our lessons of failure: our mistakes mean everything, so learn from them and don’t make the same mistake twice.

In the Beginning, There Were “Spokescalls”

“US anarchists would need to exchange an emphasis on decision-making for one on initiative-taking. The open assembly does not exist to ratify a decision, because it would never dream of stopping its constituents from making all the decisions they wanted. And, I would argue it doesn’t exist either to impel action because it is assumed and promoted that its constituents are already taking action, and need the assembly in order to share.

-From Movement to Space, the Anarchist Open Assemblies

“We just have to keep in mind that nothing different can come out of an assembly than what is already there.”

-To Our Friends, the Invisible Committee

After my release from jail, I was greeted by anti-capitalist chants, boxes full of fresh clothes, the first warm food in over twenty-four hours, and what have become some of my dearest friends. I can’t possibly stress what this meant to me. When we’re in the streets, our first priority should be to protect either other and prevent as many arrests as possible, but when our friends are kidnapped from us by the state, jail support is one of the most critical logistical projects and gestures of solidarity. That shit meant everything to me. Seeing my friends and comrades fighting for us on the outside set the tone for the next year and a half, and I came out of my cell spiting fire.

A small nucleus of local DC activists ran the logistical support for arrestees on the ground: keeping track of releases, contacting the National Lawyers Guild, getting us fed with pizza, shuttling us across precincts to collect our stolen possessions, etc. From what I can remember, this group of people eventually coalesced into an official organization called the Dead City Legal Posse.

If I recall, this organization, in cooperation with the Metropolitan Anarchist Coordinating Council (MACC) was also responsible for setting up one of the most important early acts in the struggle against our charges: the coordination of a regional spokes-council between defendants, or in our case, a “spokescall.” This call placed dozens of defendants, from across just as many states, in contact with each other for the first time and established critical lines of communication between us. Those early calls opened up the spaces for us to find each other. Without them, it’s possible that the majority of us would have remained isolated from each other throughout the case.

In this sense, I found the initial spokescalls invaluable for generating collective resistance and struggle.

Over the coming months, I also found that it regularly devolved into a routine decision – making body – a legislative body, to speak the language of government – that would suppress projects and manage defendants’ struggles.

I think that there are two ways of conceptualizing assemblies, the first could be called “anarchist” and the second could be called “anarchic.”

The former considers them as a kind a political organ constructed for the sake of ratifying and legitimizing (certain) decisions – a kind of brain, set with the intention of “thinking” and “reasoning” for the body-politique, the political-body, the artificial animal comprised of human bodies and social roles. The spokescalls, in my experience, often operated this way, and when it did I noticed a few things:

  • Proposals formed within the calls themselves, with no outside momentum to drive them, often never materialized. The clearest example of this remains our attempt to organize a collective plea strategy, meant to provide those most vulnerable with some support by securing every defendant the same non-cooperating plea offer in the case. The first proposal was drafted within the call itself by the ~20 defendants on the call, and sent back with delegates to regional pockets of other defendants (at the time, it made sense to group into formations of defendants based on our geographic region; eventually, this would change to within our trial blocks). While the project was clearly important for those on the call, we never received much feedback from the larger groups of defendants, and when we did most felt that they wanted their day in court rather than a plea offer. However, instead of proceeding with the numbers/initiative we did have (small though they were), the proposal was re-drafted. And then again, and then again…a half dozen times: rewrite, re-establish consensus, re-share. This process finally deadlocked and descended into a bizarre spectacle of politics, where some folks struggled to decide on a proposal to ratify a decision-making policy for future proposals…Needless to say, enormous amounts of time were wasted on this shit, the project never got off the ground, and the defendants most at-risk were left with no cover.
  • At the same time, this process was effective in terms of actually mothballing certain projects that did have initiative, but were deemed potentially risky or dangerous by particular people in the spokescall. Another example: the early-trial strategy. Our prosecutor, Jenny “Lowblow” Kerkhoff, initially setup a “Group One” of alleged breakers, alleged inciters, and moving defendants for the first trial scheduled in March ’18. We considered that her hope was to secure easy convictions and build momentum for future trial blocks within the courts and the press. Recognizing this, we moved to disrupt her scheduling by having defendants with much weaker cases request trials for November/December ’17. One defendant personally reached out to over a hundred other defendants, organized a conference call to analyze the strategy, and found folks willing to talk to their lawyers. But when this person shared all of this with the spokescall, they were told to wait: they hadn’t submitted a proposal for this, there was no consensus on it by the spokescall, it hadn’t been shared by the regional delegates – ignoring the fact that the delegates had by bypassed through direct contact with the regional defendants themselves. In the face of this, and the past failure of the collective-plea proposal, the defendant expressed their frustrations: they weren’t issuing a proposal, or looking for consensus, and they would proceed as intended, alone or otherwise. They had come seeking comrades, not politicians. The result of that work, in combination with the bravery of the November defendants, were six acquittals and 129 subsequent dismissals.

It’s this last examples that points towards the second way of understanding the assembly or spokes-council, the “anarchic” way: not as a political organ, but as a form of open space to find new people and a tool for sharing. The assembly is a weapon for coordinating initiatives to amplify their efficacy – a weapon to pick up or put down as the situation demands. This tool is only effective when (a) we already have developed projects outside of the assembly and want to share them, or (b) we are looking for others with similar projects to coordinate with or join.

Anyone who remembers the good calls we had (and we did have them) knows that they took place after defendants got updates from their lawyers and wanted to strategize, or after really important motions were filed worth sharing, or after a round of situational analysis following some new gambit from Kerkhoff. When the calls worked like this, I think we all found it invigorating and refreshing. But when they didn’t it was deeply demoralizing, contributed to burn-out, and attendance dropped of rapidly.

I think that more important than play-acting as politicians, or forming legislative bodies, is spreading the assembly-tactic as a general practice for when the situation calls. This way, it becomes a tool among anyone we share space with, and can be deployed when the time comes to open up space on the margins to find each other.

The Anarchic Desert

“As such, the necessity of organization depends on the density of anarchist activity in a space or region. The most basic unit that conforms an anarchist density is the project. Too often, proposals are raised in the anarchist desert – regions with little activity. These are destined to fail. Organization itself does not generate more activity if there is nothing to organize.”

-A Wager on the Future

What is the anarchist (or rather, anarchic) desert? I think this phenomena deserves some discussion in relation to the struggle against our charges. The anarchic desert describes a space or terrain or struggle with either a low-density or total absence of anarchic organizing, with the project as the base unit of organization. The more projects within a certain space, the higher the anarchic density and the opacity of the space.

Some really brilliant projects were developed in the course of this case: a model for peer-led emotional support groups; community festivals with flaming limos and dinners for supporters; auctions to raise defense funds; all the Weeks of Solidarity; Kerkhophony Vol.I (still waiting on Vol.II). But overall, I can’t recall a time when I saw more than 35-40 defendants working on unique projects at once, out of ~235 people. I think this could be considered an anarchic desert of mild intensity.

Why did this happen? I’d love to see other reflections from ex-defendants come out regarding this, because I can only speak to my own experiences: the last year and half were extremely exhausting, and brutally traumatizing. In many cases I found my own fear paralyzing. I found myself cycling through sustained periods of burn-out and paranoia, followed by manic, sporadic bouts of organizing. I think there were multiple reasons for this:

  • A lack of personal clarity about my own goals. What did I want? Finding yourself in a direct confrontation with the state, when you don’t consider the state’s existence legitimate, is a bit bizarre. Did I want my charges dropped, and did that seem possible? Did I just want a good, non-cooperating plea to cut my losses (which I considered many times)? Did I want to use my case as “propaganda of the deed” and sacrifice myself for “the cause”? Did I actually want to go to prison, into the deepest pits of the beast to wage my war, and do I still find it inevitable even now? Did I want to desert into political exile (a choice I heard ridiculed among other ex-defendants, which I consider fucked up)? Did I want to keep planning my escape? I never arrived at a clear answer. Without one, how could I think strategically or move effectively? Without objectives, strategic thinking is locked out of access, and fighting the state can become very surreal very quickly.
  • Geographic distance from the site of struggle. More than once I thought about moving to Washington, DC. Wasn’t this the battleground of our struggle? I often felt, “yes, DC is the place to be.” Where else could we promote a subversive campaign of jury nullification, or disrupt the operations of the US Attorney’s Office, or work to legitimize property destruction as a tactic for resistance, or connect with other struggles against the Metropolitan Police Department? The idea of actually being in DC made things feel possible. But I never went. There were multiple reasons: it was financially and logistically inaccessible; it would strain my commitments and my relationships; the fear was overwhelming – of returning to DC, and of escalating the struggle. I thought above going over and over again throughout the case, but I just never took the leap. Towards the end of the case, a small group of defendants really ran with the initiative to secure a communal house for defendants just out of DC to act as a base of operations, but it also never happened. I think it would have been a good idea.
  • Burn-out and trauma. I found quickly that within the desert, you could build social capital by “bottom-lining” the majority of needs, and you could set informal social hierarchies by framing the “needs” within the spokescalls. I spent time assuming a “leadership” position and bottom-lining more than I could handle. Part of this came from a felt urgency to “be productive,” part came as a response to anxieties and a desire for control of the situation (an authoritative impulse I ultimately had to reject). Part of me liked the praise. But not only did I find myself unable to keep all of my commitments, the over-extension led to poor execution of the projects I did follow through with. This also contributed as feedback to the burn-out cycle. Likewise, the fear of more repression kept me from pursuing other projects that felt important to me.

Who knows which cause was primary, but in the end, all of them affected my capacity and willingness to fight back, and I wonder if that’s a shared experience among my fellow ex-defendants. In the end, the desert persisted.

If I tried to point out the anarchic desert, I was told multiple times by co-defendants and supporters that my method of organizing was too “informal.” That having people pursue their own projects and attempt to coordinate efforts themselves lacked structure (or more accurately, discipline), and that people would be best served by the formality of the spokescall and its working-groups.

In truth, I find the question of “formal vs. informal” as pointless as the one between “violent vs. nonviolent.” What matters isn’t the degree of formality used to plan our coordinations. What matter is whether there is something to coordinate. What matters is whether people are doing something that matters to them. Often, I found this discourse to be a way of covering up the clear dynamic at hand – a lack of initiatives and projects coming from ourselves as defendants – while also trying to (re)capture people within the larger body-politique of the spokescalls: the “collective.” But the formation used to execute projects doesn’t matter so long as there are actual projects being organized and the formation can operate effectively. The important thing is that shit is getting done. And all of this ties back to each of us developing our own vision of liberation for ourselves.

Without our own projects – our own projectuality and a sense of the direction we want to move in – there is no such thing as “support.” To be supported, first of all, we need to want someone’s help. From there we can ask ourselves what that help needs to look like and we can communicate that to our friends. If this isn’t the case then we’re not being supported, we are being managed. Part of liberation is that we can’t be told what to want, or how to be, or what to do: we have to take the responsibility to look at the situation ourselves, figure out what we want, and then do what needs to be done. Our supporters can’t do this for us. I don’t need people to fight for me, I need people to fight with me. There’s a big difference.

A crucial example for me happened in court during one of the trials, where I witnessed a “supporter” shut down an attempt by a defendant to speak out against the testimony a particularly disgusting pig. The supporter, witnessing a potentially dangerous situation develop, decided it was best to step in and stop the defendant in order to “protect them from themselves.” This exploded into a serious conflict, one in which I backed my co-defendant for one simple reason: they did not ask for the supporter’s help, nor to be saved. This situation was nuanced. I don’t think this co-defendant thought about their comrades on the stand right next to them, or the danger it could have put them in as by jeopardizing the biases of the jury. I think they would have been responsible for that. And I can recognize that the impulse to “protect” emerges from a place of anxiety, concern, and fear. But that shit is patronizing and paternalistic as fuck, and it’s definitely authoritarian in character. If I need backup, I’ll ask you for backup. If you see me heading towards a dangerous situation, know that I recognize this and respect me enough to let me make my own choices.

“Good Protesters” and Bad Press

This is the only reflection where I feel the need to get truly salty. But as a friend recently said, the salt brings out the flavor, so here it is.

The narrative constructed around this entire case was some reformist, liberal ass bullshit. And, quite to the point, I’m not “innocent” in this regard either. I worked within the “public relations” (oh, hello red-flag…) working-group from the jump, and from the outset the framework used to craft media involved erasing/minimizing the militancy of the march and the property destruction that took place, highlighting the “indiscriminate” nature of our arrest (i.e. how the cops couldn’t sort the “real protesters” from the “criminals”), and centering a narrative of police misconduct as opposed to a rejection of policing as an operation of government.

Had the MPD used surgical precision by deploying their “snatch squads” and arrested discrete actors in the demonstration, I would still fucking hate them.

The public relations working-group was, without a doubt, one of the most active combinations of supporters and defendants. For over a year they consistently churned out op-eds, interviews, podcasts, videos, blog-posts, press-releases, etc. They got busy and they stayed busy.

But facts are facts: this narrative completely sold out the defendants most at-risk from these charges, especially the alleged breakers. Not only in the press, but even within some of the arguments from the defense attorneys themselves in court. I know this to be a shared sentiment. At every point, the media in this case was focused on trying to hide the property destruction that took place, and instead affirm that the police “broke their own rules,” didn’t separate the guilty from the innocent, and just rounded everyone up. It should be pretty obvious how this narrative fucks people over, never mind the irony of anarchists complaining that the laws were broken.

Deploying this strategy in court made sense for the moving defendants (see the November trials), so I can understand the decision even if I don’t agree with it: loopholes and fuck-ups are apparently critical to destroying a legal case. But do to this in our media?

Where were the articles about the history of property destruction as an effective/essential tactic for struggle? Or the analysis of policing as an explicit counterinsurgency operation, one developed throughout all of the so-called Americas specifically as a method of suppressing insurrections? Where were the articles affirming why people shouldn’t give a shit about a Bank of America or a Starbucks getting its windows smashed up? Who gives two shits about a corporation that explicitly bribes your politicians, funds colonialism and genocide through pipeline development, and helped collapse the economy? I sure as fuck don’t, and I can’t imagine why anyone else would beyond the ridiculous notion of “public decency.” It was magnificent to watch people decide, even if only symbolically, that they weren’t going to sit back and accept the absurdity of life governed by this system anymore.

But where was that in the media? My lawyer told me verbatim that, “95% of DC residents hate Donald Trump, but they don’t want to see things broken over it.” This position remained unchallenged for our entire case.

I mentioned this issue in the working-group a few times, but the direction never changed. I ultimately left. At this point, the failure to change the narrative falls on me. The initiative was mine to take from that moment, but by then I’d become exhausted, paranoid, and paralyzed by the fear/trauma of my approaching trial. I couldn’t find the will to act, and no one can do that for us. I think we need to find that courage and drive within ourselves.

Still, I’m disappointed by this aspect of our struggle. I know I could have done better, and at this point I expect better from supporters. The statements from comrades in Hamilton over the Locke Street Riot give me fucking life: an outright rejection of “innocence”; unwavering support for the property destruction that took place; a real, complicated conversation about gentrification as literal acts of warfare against certain people. I think these folks have set a solid example of what solidarity can look like in practice within our media.

Commune Against Statecraft

“Nature is, by the art of man, as in many other things, so also in this imitated, that it can make an Artificial Animal. For by art is created that great Leviathan called the common-wealth, or state, which is but an Artificial Man; though of greater stature and strength than the natural, for whose protection and defense it was intended; an in which, the sovereign is an artificial soul, as giving life and motion to the whole body; the magistrates and other officers, artificial joints; reward and punishment are the nerves; equity and laws, an artificial reason and will…lastly, the pacts and covenants, by which the parts of this body-politique were at first made, set together, and united.

-Leviathan, Thomas Hobbes

At the beginning of our repression, a kernel of defendants got together to draft certain “points of unity” – a pseudo-constitutional contract or a set of laws – that were then shopped around and agreed to by several dozen defendants, myself included. This collection of agreements served as the charter, as the “pacts and covenants”, of a new body-politique, a “collective,” that evolved into DefendJ20 Resistance.

It’s only now that I can recognize all of this for what it was: the primordial stages of statecraft, and a policing operation called “unity.” As the sovereign, the “collective” (with the defendants as its subject); as the magistrates and officers, the members of the collective itself armed with a decentralized method of policing; as reward, social capital, and as punishment, excommunication and snitch-jacketing; as equity and laws, consensus democracy and the points of unity.

All of this felt very cozy at first – a contract, signed by dozens of defendants swearing to work together, to play by the rules, not to snitch or cooperate with the prosecution. And more than that, a group, a security blanket of bodies to feel safe among.

But over time, I started noticing some weird shit: I never heard from people who hadn’t signed the points of unity, and never established contact with them; people who “violated” the points of unity – say, through a shitty news interview and a lack of willingness to respond to constructive criticism – were pushed out of the collective, ostracized, and nearly called out as snitches; by first setting the agendas and then “bottom-lining” the majority of the work, certain people acquired enormous amounts of social capital within informal hierarchies; in my own home, I was told that the “collective” had no space for a multiplicity of working-groups crafting media, and that only one would be “recognized” by the collective as legitimate.

I watched anarchists refer to the “collective” the same way Communists refer to the “party” without so much as batting an eye, and I saw projects snuffed out of existence under appeals to remain united because “we’re all defendants, right?”

Except that after a year of dealing with this, I decided I didn’t want to remain “united” as one of many corpses within this weird political machine. I decided that the collective was a lie, as fake an institution as any other piece of statecraft. And it was statecraft, Hobbesian down to its entire conception and operation.

See, I think our concept of “collective” isn’t helpful. We’ve inherited too much bullshit from the last several hundred years of empire, even within our language and our thinking. Right now, most folks consider “collective” to be a noun, sort of the same way they consider “community” to be a noun. For most people, both words refer to just “a group of people,” a set configuration of people, a patch-work machine of bodies sewn together by artificial ties. And so every time we try to embrace this idea of “acting collectively”, the only thing we can imagine is the same shit we’ve been doing for a while now: reproducing state-forms, over and over again.

But there are other ways of defining these words. “Collective” can become an adjective to describe that which is shared between us: a certain struggle, a position within the situation, a strategy, a gesture of attack. “Community” can stop referring to some discrete set of people, and can point towards an affective experience of resonance between bodies, a sensible feeling of being connected to others across the empty space. Similarly, we can redefine “commune” and change it from being a noun, specific unit of socio-geographic organization, to a verb that describes the act of sharing things openly.

I think these re-definitions offer a path towards a different way of moving through the world. A more anarchic way, one that is counter to the logic of statecraft, policing, and the performance of politics. One that involves a deepening practice of commune – of openly sharing with others to produce collectivities, living (and dying) expressions of free sharing, as a rich tapestry of communities, experiences of connection, that can take an infinite variety of forms simultaneously as they come together and then break apart. This practice demands attention, trust, risk, uncertainty, danger, the discovery of friends and enemies, and experimentation – the antithesis of suspicion, alienation, security, control, neutrality, and hegemony that defines life under the state.

One of my most cherished memories of my arrest was the singing that took place inside the jails, between rooms and across the concrete and steel. This act of commune, this gesture of care and defiance that we shared together, preceded any kind of decision-making process and produced a collectivity so rich, so ripe with the sense of community, that I still think fondly on it right now. That moment, and other moments like it, forged the real bonds that carried me through this case, the kind that can never be substituted by fucking contracts or points of unity. I’ll never forget it.

By forming this collective, I think we ignored the vast, untapped potential bonds that could have actually existed between us had we practiced more communing. Instead we affirmed a constructed, lowest-common-denominated identity – the “defendant,” one traumatized and criminalized onto our bodies by the state itself – and used it to build a political artifice. An artifice that brought over two-hundred strangers together as strangers and then tried to force them to work together. What kind of bonds could have really existed between us at this point, besides those forged in the streets and the jails?

I will never do this shit again. I affirm death to every state-form, including the “collective.” But in spite of itself, genuine collectivities did express themselves: in nights spent with co-defendants, sharing weed and war stories, becoming actual friends; in benefit shows, ventriloquist acts, musical albums, and laughter shared mocking our enemies’ stupidity; in Signal threads for sharing nudes and group sex on the living room floor; in support groups for sharing our tears and trauma; even in the early Impact Space meetings, where we shared our analysis of the situation and learned each other’s faces.

If I regret anything, it’s that I didn’t open up more of these spaces where we could have shared more with each other, elaborated these collectivities, and deepened the bonds between us. Because it’s these bonds, and not some bullshit political structure, that makes us ready to risk everything and fight for each other in the face of seventy-five years in prison. What else possibly could?

Not “Anarchism”, but Anarchies

“We take what we want from a bunch of radical ideas and tendencies, while rejecting any aspects of them that we don’t find useful or worthwhile. So we want to reject becoming messiahs of any category, label, or ideological division…our lives are our own and we have to begin by defining our own course of action.

-Anarchy, Activism, and Insurrection, A Murder of Crows

“The main idea of my way of strategy is to win. There is nothing else. Attack with one purpose and one purpose only – to destroy the enemy.

-The Book of Five Rings, Miyamoto Mushashi

“How can we put an end to this? That’s the real question, isn’t it? Magic is about doing. Revolution is much the same: you’ll never really learn anything until you actually do it.

-Starting Your Own War to Get Free, Dr. Bones

This is my last reflection. It feels like the most important.

Prior to my arrest, I could properly be called an “anarchist.” By this, I mean that I subscribed to an anarchist program of ideology (at the time, insurrectionalism), was part of the local anarchist milieu, maintained its aesthetic, and beyond that, believed in its promises. My introduction to struggle happened via theory and the academy, and I became an anarchist by the way of Bookchin and Bakunin. What I understood of struggle, largely, was limited to what I had read in the history books and thought in my own head.

Anarchism is a world-wide phenomena. It’s spread across the planet and interacted with countless liberation struggles over centuries, cross-pollinating its methods, practices, and tactics with others. It has a rich history of rebellion, revolt, and a rejection of capital’s putrid world, and a proud lineage of ancestors who I affirm and keep in my heart for guidance.

That said, it is still a deeply Euro-centric/colonial/industrial ideology that is wrapped up in utopian schemes of social engineering, “human progress,” the hegemonic project of the missionaries, and an image of “revolution” that looks more like a secular re-imagining of the Judgement Day than anything resembling liberation: one day, the wicked will be properly struck down in a fire of righteous punishment and justice, and the meek and dispossessed with re-inherit the earth. Sound familiar?

It wasn’t until I feel feet-first into a direct, concrete struggle against the state that I learned just how useless all of this is. Proselytizing for an ideology isn’t going to get your charges dropped, a new “social order” becomes repellent when you realize it will still require policing, and waiting for the “rev” feels pretty fucking stupid when your trial date is breathing down your neck.

As I’ve noted extensively above, all of the processes, formalisms, and politics of anarchism were not helpful in this situation. It’s at the point where I actively question whether I continue to call myself an “anarchist” or “revolutionary,” because maybe these things are best left in the trash-heap of capital’s identities – the ones it uses to manage us. Anarchism didn’t help me. Although some amazing people who call themselves anarchists did, and I’ll never forget that.

However, buried beneath all the ideology I found weapons: my personal ethics, projectuality, strategic thinking and situational analysis, direct action, operational theory, decentralized initiative, chaos magic, assembly and dis-assembly in the pursuit of community. All of these weapons and ideas form my concept of anarchy, which I consider very different from “anarchism.” I use them all because I find them effective.

What is anarchy? I find most definitions of the world useless, since they’re all still wrapped up in socialism and the social promise: “a world without domination,” “a society free from coercion,” “a world with rules, but no rulers.” How does that last one even make fucking sense? Who makes the rules if there are no rulers? None of these accurately describe anarchy for me, so instead I offer my own definition.

Anarchy: a methodology for engaging in direct struggle, a framework for embracing conflict, an art of war towards liberation.

Liberation is a crime. At some point, those of us looking to desert the Leviathan of capital will have to reconcile with this. It will always be a crime for a slave to free themselves. Our desires exist outside of the law by default, and by extension, at war with the hostage situation called civil society. Not war as in “military carnage,” but war as in “strategic conflict.” We have a game to win, with clear obstacles in our path and enemies on the other side of the board.

Anarchy is a framework for engaging in this war, a methodology for breaking out of this literal prison-world. As a framework, it makes sense then not to speak of “Anarchy”, but rather of anarchies – plural, multiple. Everyone who engages in this war for liberation will develop their own anarchic framework as they wage their struggles directly. These frameworks will overlap, intersect, cross-over and collide with each other, but they will never be mass produced like a fucking Ikea chair.

Well, that’s all. I’m not terribly good with endings. Please forgive me. Again, I’d love to see more ex-defendants share their own reflections. That kind of practice of communing could be very fruitful, even if conflictual.

We got away this time. Let’s make the most of it. Until next time.

Tags: j20critiqueRepressionanarchists in troublecategory: Essays
Categories: News

In Arkhangelsk anarchist Misha Zhlobitsky explodes FSB reception

Thu, 11/01/2018 - 17:16

from https://a2day.net/in-arkhangelsk-anarchist-misha-zhlobitsky-explodes-fsb...

October 31, 2018 8:52 local time in the city of Arkhangelsk at the entrance to the reception room of the Regional Directorate of the FSB of the Russian Federation in the Arkhangelsk Region an explosion was heared. The rebel anarchist Mikhail Vasilievich Zhlobitsky, also known in the Telegram channel as Valerian Panov, blew himself up. This is the first case of anarchists undermining the FSB in 19 years – the previous attack was organized in 1999 against the reception office of the FSB in Moscow by the New Revolutionary Alternative organization.
Mikhail Zhlobitsky died as a result of a self-detonation, causing injuries of varying severity to three FSB officers. He was 17 years old.
A few minutes before the explosion, the anarchist left a message in the chat group under the nickname Valerian Panov. Here is what he wrote:

Comrades, now in the FSB building in Arkhangelsk there will be a terrorist attack, the responsibility for which I claim. The reasons are clear to you. Since FSB fabricates cases and tortures people, I decided to go for it. Most likely, I will die because of the explosion, because I initiate the bomb directly by pressing the button attached to the bomb cover. Therefore, you are requested to spread information about the terrorist attack: who committed it and the reasons.
Well, that seems to be all. I wish you to go towards our goal unswervingly and uncompromisingly. I am wishing you the future of anarchist communism!

The picture shows that a young man, who is in front of the metal detector frame, is holding a backpack with one hand and the other is inside the bag
We bow our heads before the heroism of our comrade. We were not acquainted live, but through communication he left an impression of himself as an intelligent and well-prepared person who is not indifferent and aspires to go beyond the swamp of the official opposition struggle, which is now mainstream.
There is no doubt that Mikhail acted purposefully, understood his motives crystally and consciously sacrificed himself during the action. It is impossible to read the stories of our comrades about the nightmarish torture in the dungeons of the Gestapo-FSB without the heart bleeding and without being overwhelmed with a thirst for revenge for sadists in uniform. When a feeling of indignation and a desire for justice fills up the cup of patience, when internal moral conflict becomes intolerable for an honest person, then concern for their own welfare retreats before deciding to call the scoundrels to account. Anarchists often did this in the past, rushing into a suicide attack on a tyrant and executioner.
Michael showed composure and endurance of a true revolutionary. We are deeply shocked, full of grief from the heroic death of Michael and deeply saddened that he did not leave any hope for himself.
We accept Michael as he is, and express our full solidarity and respect for his Act. He lived as he thought was right, and died, like a hero, in the struggle for the ideals of Freedom and Justice.
Death to the Federal Collision of the Infinites!
Long live the Anarchy!
Eternal memory to Mikhail Zhlobitsky! Rest in peace, dear comrade.

 

Tags: actionmartyrinternationalbombsuicidein-memoriumcategory: Actions
Categories: News

An Anarchist Response to the Free Speech Debate

Thu, 11/01/2018 - 14:56

by Rai Ling, via C4SS

Once championed by anarchists, leftists, and liberals; in recent times, free speech has become a right-wing talking point. Where the free-speech movement of the 60s opposed government sanctions on protest and dissent, the political right largely focuses on the following issues; right-wing speakers being denied platforms, social media censorship, the use of accusations such as “racist” and “transphobe” to silence” “dissenting” voices, and anti-fascists confronting far-right rallies, sometimes with violence. But the “free speech” concerns of the political right are not justified and have very little to do with meaningful political freedom.

So far, liberal commentators have treated the principle of free-speech as a sacrosanct right. Hence, they often approach the matter by citing legal convention, arguing that private corporations have no legal obligations to host or employ right-wingers who engage in hate-speech defined as “speech that attacks a person or group on the basis of attributes such as race, ethnic origin, national origin, sexual orientation, disability, or gender.” As such, nobody’s right to free speech is being infringed upon when they get fired or deplatformed. Anarchists would vaguely agree with this because even without state enforcement, deplatforming amounts to free association, an idea that is neatly summarized in this famous xkcd comic-strip. We also tend to oppose “hate speech” too, but would not contract the state to address it. Rather, we would rely on free association and decentralized direct action to uphold freedoms and oppose hate. The use of direct action to deplatform far-right speakers aligns with anarchist praxis since it implicitly rejects the authority of the state and also acknowledges that the state is unwilling to fight on our behalf.

This response typically fails to appease right wingers who claim that deplatforming nevertheless silences them or otherwise rail against the “SJW” cultural norms that lead to speakers getting deplatformed in the first place. This however isn’t an argument about free-speech but rather what constitutes acceptable speech. People on the right aren’t actually being silenced in any meaningful sense, especially compared to academics on the radical left who are more frequently fired for their views and commonly loose speaking engagements. Figures like Noam Chomsky and Norman Finklestein have been effectively boycotted by the mainstream media whereas institutionally backed status-quo warriors like Jordan Peterson are commonly on-air. However, for the sake of argument, let’s take the mass hysteria at face value and address the issue head-on.

An Anarchist Approach to Free Speech

Anarchists have historically championed freedom of speech, fighting government censorship and anti-union policies. However, we approach the issue differently to liberals by rejecting the legalism that allows private platforms to be unaccountable and forces public entities to host speakers, which routinely results in public institutions platforming openly alt-right figures such as Richard Spencer. Instead I would propose a different framework; open-dialogue as a decentralized, bottom-up, and stigmergic phenomenon grounded in reciprocal exchange as opposed to state enforcement. Anarchists don’t seek to superficially alter the statist conception of speech in terms of what is and isn’t allowed a priori but to do away with this formula altogether. By negating authority, we in turn abolish the elevated status the state has given to speech, property, national identity, and so on as well as the heavily skewed power dynamic that suppresses the voices of marginalized groups and amplifies the voices of the wealthy and powerful, a point expanded upon in Rolling Thunder:

There can be no truly free speech except among equals—among parties who are not just equal before the law, but who have comparable access to resources and equal say in the world they share. Can an employee really be said to be as free to express herself as her boss, if the latter can take away her livelihood? Are two people equally free to express their views when one owns a news network and the other cannot even afford to photocopy fliers? In the US, where donations to political candidates legally constitute speech, the more money you have, the more “free speech” you can exercise. As the slogan goes, freedom isn’t free—and nowhere is that clearer than with speech.

By stressing reciprocal exchange in speech, we emphasize subjectivity while deemphasizing absolutist forms of speech that seek to invalidate people’s identities, dehumanize them, and justify oppression. Speech isn’t a right to be granted by the state but a capacity we all have. This means everyone would be free to express themselves as they choose but nobody is beyond accountability, which may result in them being confronted or being deplatformed.

The first counterargument that comes to mind is that free speech as a bottom up phenomenon can easily translate into tyranny of the majority. I would contend that mass censorship is impossible without a centralized authority (a state) with the capacity to uniformly monitor everyone and enforce rulings. People with views that repulse society at large would still be free to voice their views online or in private; any given society has a large range of spaces that cater to a variety of viewpoints. More importantly, the active or passive silencing of certain viewpoints merely reflects the norms of everyday discourse which exists in all societies, often embodied in law. For example, the USA has laws pertaining to obscenity, incitement to violence, copyright infringement, press censorship during wartime, whistleblowing and restrictions for the incarcerated. Overall, censorship would likely be far less common in an anarchic setting.

Why Do We Utilize Deplatforming?

While a stateless society is likely to reject ideas that rely on, justify, or push for domination such as transphobia, scientific racism, homophobia, misogyny, and nationalism, it is important to present our reasoning for rejecting hate speech.

  1. Right-wing speakers being denied platforms and social media censorship

Speech does not always take place in a power vacuum; by empowering some voices, we may suppress others. Consider a hostile work environment where people constantly speculate about the gender identity of their trans coworker or make racially insensitive remarks. In such an instance, if an employer refuses to take action by “citing” free-speech, it is likely that impacted individuals would isolate themselves or be driven out of the workplace entirely.

In this case, free-speech is not a black and white matter of unquestioningly upholding a sacred principle regardless of what is being expressed. Rather, we ought to move past the principle and consider the underlying power dynamic wherein “free” expression can amount to oppression. Free speech is not always a neutral principle, not only because of the massive, well-funded propaganda system that propagates far-right talking points, but because the silencing effect that normalizing hate-speech has on marginalized groups.

Therefore, instead of unwaveringly enforcing free-speech, we should take a more nuanced approach and consider whose voices we want to prioritize. In other words, this is really about picking a side — who’s speech are we going to defend?

Questions asking whether the Holocaust happened or whether trans people should be gendered correctly ought to be denied a platform. Not only because of the silencing effect these talking points may have, but because these matters are not of academic relevance and add nothing to the discussion. A Jewish person should not have to intellectually debate a Nazi on whether they should be gassed, a black person should not have to refute the idea that they’re a different species, and a transgender person shouldn’t have to defend the validity of their gender identity. These debates have been put to rest and aren’t appropriate in academic contexts where Jews, black people, and trans people come to learn, not rhetorically defend their right to exist.

Mainstream social media should aim to meet the same standards. While social media provides users with the ability to form veritable echo-chambers, platforms that aim to build inclusive environments should opt to remove accounts that promote hate in order to fight back against the normalization of hate-speech. Of course, this isn’t to say hateful views won’t have anywhere else to go on the internet.

Many of the matters being brought up have been largely resolved by their respective academic fields; history, gender studies, biology, post-colonial studies, etc. Take the debate over trans identity for example; Gender and sex are not the same, dichotomous conceptions of sex are guilty of essentialism, which is best visualized as a spectrum and biological markers exist for trans identities (which may still be a small part of a far wider picture). Speakers such as Ben Shapiro who willfully refuse to acknowledge the massive body of evidence are guilty of erasure and have nothing to add the conversation besides lies.

Yale University refusing to renew David Graeber’s contract over his involvement in Occupy was not a talking point among the right-wing free-speech warriors. Yet, there is mass outrage every time dweebs like James Damore get fired over their misogynistic comments and people like Alex Jones get banned from social media for harassment. Let’s face it, while often genuine, outrage over free-speech is selectively expressed based on one’s ideological position. Today, the underlying ideology that motivates far-right individuals isn’t open academic inquiry, but hate, a fact missed by the “classical liberal” suckers (or closet racists) who clamor in support of the far-right.

A good example of this general dynamic can be found in the recent controversy over “The Case for Colonialism,” a paper by Bruce Gilley, which resulted in the editor of Third World Quarterly, receiving personal threats. My search for right-leaning responses yielded an effete opinion piece that skirts over the issue, arguing that vapid contrarianism is important to academic discourse. Yes, millions of people were killed, but what about the railways? What if colonialism hadn’t occurred? These questions serve to retrospectively justify oppression and genocide and erase the experiences of colonized peoples, who after decades of oppression are now faced with academia attempting to justify their suffering. For the defenders of this bland, watered down understanding of free-speech, there is no social context in which academic discourse takes place. Moreover, even within academic circle the paper was found to lack rigor. For a critical response to Gilley’s paper, look to Nathan J. Robinson of Current Affairs debunks many of his claims in “A Quick Reminder of Why Colonialism Was Bad.”

  1. The use of accusations such as “racist” and “transphobe” to “silence” “dissenting” voices

People on the political right who come to understand the impact of these terms are unwittingly reproducing the arguments used by marginalized groups to justify deplatforming. It is certainly true that being disregarded as a transphobe, racist, or Islamophobe has an implicit silencing effect. However, while we should be wary of false accusations, there is frankly no discourse to be had with groups that promote hate because the silencing effects of unencumbered speech go both ways.

Jordan Peterson comes to this conclusion when examining the word “Islamophobia.” In the interview he opposes things that “limit what you you’re allowed to say either implicitly or explicitly,” defending the very fundamentalist vision of free-speech I am arguing against. He goes on, “I regard [Islamophobia] as a reprehensible word, I. don’t like the word because phobia has a technical medical/ psychological meaning and that word was appropriated for ideological usage and applied to any conflict ideological or emotional between different identity groups… it has manipulation built into its structure.” Here Peterson’s observation is technically true; however, what he’s doing isn’t defending a neutral principle but picking a side. Rather than defending the speech of Muslims, trans people, and other marginalized groups, he chooses to side with the various “phobes” who push dehumanizing generalizations, deny subjectivity (from their own subjective positions) and implicitly or explicitly argue for violence by advocating for programs such as mass deportations. Whether certain ideas are up for discussion is a matter for individual forums to decide. While these talking points may be welcome in areas dominated by the political right, we have no obligation to extend the same courtesies.

  1. Anti-fascists violently confronting far-right rallies

With this final matter, our discussion moves from the realms of speech to action. When anti-fascists organize in the street, they are typically mobilizing against outright Nazis, white nationalists, and the alt-right, who all endorse violence and act upon their intentions. Far-right rhetoric often consists of direct threats that we have no reason to ignore in light of recent events. Today, even rallies organized by less extreme individuals on the right are nevertheless being co-opted by the far-right who use these as opportunities to recruit and spread their message.

Across the US the far right has been responsible for 73% of terrorist attacks since 2001. At a Milo Yiannopoulos event in Seattle a Trump supporter shot and injured an Antifa protestor, in Portland a figure on the far right stabbed two people on a train, and of course there’s Charlottesville. Earlier this month, the Proud Boys, a group with a history of violence in Portland, assaulted three individuals in New York City, who were later arrested by the police. More recently, a neo-nazi murdered 8 people at a Synagogue in Pittsburgh.

Allowing these people to freely organize in public spaces, form networks, organize, and recruit members is not an option because they pose a threat to people’s safety. Movements constrained to the internet fail to have an impact when members are shrouded in anonymity and people can’t trust each other. Case-in-point, far right chat-rooms regularly end up leaking information and compromising members’ identities and tactics. Organizing and meeting in person are important for momentum to build. That’s precisely why the far-right have these rallies in the first place. With these considerations in mind, shutting down fascist rallies can be seen as nothing more than self-defense.

Although online fascist networks aren’t as up in your face and don’t give movements the same momentum as real world organizing, they nevertheless facilitate extremism and encourage individuals to commit acts of violence. For example, “gab.ai,” the self-described “free speech platform” that housed the Pittsburgh shooter, functions as a Twitter replacement set-up specifically for Nazis, providing them with a means to freely network. After the shooting, the site was deplatformed by its web host and payment processor. Despite the site’s founder fallaciously portraying the deplatforming as a free-speech issue, Jews, people of color, and other minorities are most definitely safer and more meaningfully free with gab.ai currently defunct.

While some of us may have the luxury of being insulated from the far-right, many don’t have the same privilege. The state refuses to shut down their rallies, often colluding with the far-right in order to prosecute anti-fascists. In Berkeley police coordinated with neo-nazis to pursue anti-racist activists and used near lethal force against anti-fascists in Portland in defense of fascists. Therefore, it falls to communities to engage in direct action in order to defend themselves against the very legitimate threat to people’s physical well-being.

Ever since the recent spate of rallies began, many people have come out of the woodwork, questioning Antifa on tactical grounds, arguing that violent tactics only gives more visibility to right wing causes, a point we should definitely take seriously. However, why not ask Richard Spencer, de facto leader of the alt-right what he thinks? Spencer personally attributed the end of his college tour to antifa and said “antifa is winning.” “Unite the Right 2″ had about 20 attendees and Milo Yiannopoulos can’t seem to hold onto venues because they’re all concerned about potential violence.

Conclusion

Conceptualized from an anarchist standpoint, free speech takes shape inside the framework of reciprocity, where parties engage in a mutually beneficial dialogue. As soon as a dialogue loses this property, percipients are free to withdraw from the social relations or defend themselves if the need arises. Today free speech, from both the liberal and right-wing standpoint, is posed as an a priori principle that is contingent on top down enforcement and ignores the fact that some forms of speech suppress others. It’s time to move beyond these narrow frameworks of free speech and understand that in reality “free-speech” is not the issue here, rather it is a smokescreen to allow bigots to gain platforms and spread their views.

Tags: free speechcategory: Essays
Categories: News

London: callout for solidarity with Russian Anti-Fascists

Thu, 11/01/2018 - 14:45

via Freedom News

We are an ad-hoc collective of anti-fascists in London who want to organise a solidarity event to support anti-fascists in Russia on 19th January.

19th January is a significant day for anti-fascist and anarchists as each year demonstrations are held to remember Russian comrades, the journalist Anastasia Baburova and lawyer Stanislav Markelov, who were murdered by fascists in broad daylight 10 years ago, as well as other fallen comrades who were victims to fascist violence. Markelov, an experienced lawyer and social democrat, spent years fighting for justice in workers’ struggles, environmental protests and against the violence of the Russian state. Baburova, a young journalist with independent Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta, was a reporter and anarchist from Sevastopol, Crimea. They were murdered in Moscow by a nationalist terror group with links to the Kremlin.

We also want to express our solidarity to the defendants in the “Network Case”, in which 11 Russian anti-fascists and anarchists have been detained and tortured as part of a security service investigation into alleged terrorism. These men, from St Petersburg and Penza, are due to go trial in the coming year.

The Russian state’s repression against political dissents acts in tandem with fascist gangs, a collaboration that has long been known and experienced.

With the turn to right and far-right fascist populist governments across the world from India to Brazil, USA to Italy, there is no more greater need that to share experiences and knowledge around this international moment which we are all facing whether in the UK or in Russia.

Whilst our comrades are faced with unimaginable violence by both the state and street-level fascist gangs, we intend to send a message of solidarity and defiance with this event.

What you can do:

  • We invite you to attend a meeting on Monday November 26th 6.30pm -9.00pm at Mayday Rooms, 88 Fleet St, London EC4Y 1DH. Please RSVP: london19jan(at)riseup.net
  • Discuss within your group to support this initiative
  • Save the date and republish this callout on your website

Resources:

Tags: Britainanarchist solidarityantifaRussiacategory: International
Categories: News

Anarchy Radio 10-30-2018

Thu, 11/01/2018 - 14:39

LISTEN HERE: http://archive.org/details/AnarchyRadio10302018

Nihilism not an ism? Horror show of this week's news. Americans spend more than 90% of their lives indoors. 3 million plastic bottles and bags produced globally - per minute.The Ringtone Dialectic by Sumanth Gopinath. The Language of depression and anxiety rules the internet. BIG recent push by Silicon Valley parents to keep kids away from all e-outlets at all times. Action news. Electric grids not only spread wildfires but caused them in CA. UK surgery students lack all dexterity skills. Google now completes your messages.

Tags: anarchy radiopodcastcategory: Projects
Categories: News

On the attack on the FSB in Russia

Wed, 10/31/2018 - 22:48

via crimethinc.

A year ago, the Russian Federal Security Service—the FSB—initiated a wave of repression, arresting and brutally torturing anarchists in order to force them to sign false statements admitting to participating in a supposed terrorist group invented by the Russian authorities. The ensuing crackdowns put tremendous pressure on anarchists around Russia; you can learn more about the cases and solidarity efforts here. Today, a young Russian anarchist died in an attack on the FSB headquarters in Arkhangelsk. The FSB has gotten its wish, bullying young Russians into carrying out bombings rather than engaging in public organizing. Below, we present a rough translation of the initial report from Russian anarchists, including the young man’s personal claim of responsibility.

As we have previously emphasized, we don’t believe that individual attacks on specific authority figures will suffice to abolish the institutional power of the state and capitalism. But the Russian state has left precious few alternatives for those who desire a means of bringing about positive change. At the conclusion of a week that has seen a tremendous upswing in authoritarian repression and fascist violence around the world, from Pittsburgh to Brazil, it is time for us to discuss how we can collectively respond to the escalating violence of the state and its fascist supporters.

It also bears mentioning that the FSB is directly descended from the KGB, showing the continuity of oppression between state socialism and capitalism.

We respectfully bid farewell to this young man who took a stand against repression, torture, and deceit, doing the best he could with the few options that were available to him. Let’s organize together to give people like him a reason to live. Please go to the support page for those targeted by the FSB operation.


Visual survey report on the torture that the FSB inflicted on arrestee Igor Shishkin, from the Public Monitoring Commission findings.


From bo-ak.org:

At 8:52 am, at the entrance to the FSB Directorate for the Arkhangelsk Region, an explosion took place. The anarchist rebel, Zhlobitsky Mikhail Vasilyevich, also known on the app Telegram as Valerian Panov, blew himself up. This is the first case of anarchists carrying out such an attack on the FSB in 19 years; the previous attack was organized in 1999 at the reception of the FSB in Moscow by the New Revolutionary Alternative organization.

The comrade died as a result of the explosion, also causing injuries of varying severity to three officers of the FSB.

Seven minutes before the explosion, Valerian left a message in one of the anarchist chats via Telegram, in which he described the reasons for his action:

Comrades, now in the FSB building in Arkhangelsk there will be a terrorist attack, the responsibility for which I take upon myself. The reasons are clear to you. Since the FSB fabricates cases and tortures people, I decided to go for it. Most likely, I will die because of the explosion, because I have initiated the charge directly by pressing the button attached to the bomb cover. Therefore, you are requested to spread information about the terrorist attack: who committed it and what the reasons were.

Well, sort of like everything. I wish you to go unswervingly and uncompromisingly towards our goal. Light to you, the future of anarchist communism!

We bow our heads before the heroism of our comrade. We were not acquainted in person, but through communication, he left an impression of himself as an intelligent and well-prepared person who was not apathetic, who aspired to go beyond the swamp of the official opposition struggle that is now mainstream.

We are sorry that he had no other choice, no way to do more damage to the enemy with less harm to himself.

Yet be that as it may, he lived as he thought was right, and died as a hero in the struggle for our common ideals.

As the Kurds say—Şehid namirin! Heroes do not die!

Tags: Russiadirect actionZhlobitsky Mikhail Vasilyevichcategory: International
Categories: News

FRR Books Podcast: The Unique and Its Property by Max Stirner, a Close Reading Part 2

Wed, 10/31/2018 - 22:43

Listen here: http://freeradicalradio.net/frr-books-podcast-the-unique-and-its-propert...
Or here: https://archive.org/details/FRRstirner2

Welcome to episode 2 of the FRR Books Podcast series on Max Stirner’s The Unique and its Property translated by Wolif Landstreicher. In this podcast we cover section 1.2.3 The Hierarchy, completing section 1.2, stopping just before section 1.3 The Free.

In this episode we discuss:

What is a fixed idea? Can we be free of fixed ideas
Is Kahar a nihilist? Is Stirner a nihilist? Can Kahar defend nihilism against Rydra’s devilish advocacy
- Can we actually abandon objective morality
- Ethics as a semantic and non-meaningful replacement of morality
- What is a self? Are our selves continuous, discontinuous, or something else
- Nev always desires to be bad and that is kind of hotttt
- We discuss essence and if we have an essence using Francis Bacon’s Scream painting and Milan Kundera’s thoughts on them
- How hard is rydra’s solipsism? Can Kahar avoid being negated by it? Does he care or is he just a tentacle of rydra’s octopus.
- Discussion of how we can trust another person with the context being them changing over time

Editing and Sound by Nev
Voiced by rydra wrong, Kahar, and Nev
Invisible Labor by Chuck
Production by rydra wrong

email us at free radical radio dot riseup dot net

Tags: egoismstirnernihilismwolfiselfessencereadingpodcastcategory: Projects
Categories: News

Russian anarchist detonates self at federal security HQ

Wed, 10/31/2018 - 17:49

"A 17-year-old has died of his wounds after detonating explosives in an office of Russia's FSB federal security service in the north-western city of Arkhangelsk, officials say.

Three FSB employees were hurt when the explosives went off just inside the building at around 09:00 (06:00 GMT).

The blast caused serious damage.

A CCTV image of the suspect emerged soon afterwards, along with a message he allegedly posted on social media just before the blast.

Although the authenticity of the message posted on an anarchist chat group has not been confirmed, the user identifies himself as an anarcho-communist and claims the FSB "fabricates cases and tortures people".

Russia's anti-terrorism committee said, according to initial findings, the suspect was a 17-year-old local resident who had gone into the building and pulled out of his bag an "unidentified object that exploded in his hands".

He was later named by local media as Mikhail Zhlobitsky, a student at a local technical college. His grandmother told BBC Russian that she could not understand why he had blown himself up.

Just before the explosion in Archangelsk, a user on the Telegram messaging app named "Valeryan Panov" warned that he was about to bomb the local FSB building. As his device could only be detonated by pressing a button on the top, he said he would "probably die" in the blast.

It's not yet clear who wrote that post in an anarchist chat group. His messages have now been deleted.

But screen shots from Telegram show that in September the same user had posted detailed instructions on how to manufacture explosives. A couple of weeks later he discussed the mass shooting by an 18-year old student at a vocational college in Crimea.

Valeryan Panov" commented then that you could make a "decent explosive device" on a student grant. He was back online on Tuesday, discussing explosives.

According to two of his online friends contacted by BBC Russian, Mikhail Zhlobitsky operated a social media account using the name of a 19th Century Russian revolutionary, Sergei Nechayev. That account was last accessed at 07:32 on the morning of the attack.

[...]

The FSB has been behind two controversial cases this year, against groups accused of plotting violent uprisings, the BBC's Sarah Rainsford reports from Moscow.

In both, human rights groups argued the claims were false, while they said statements in one case were extracted under torture."

[Submitter's note: clipped a paragraph the BBC thought was somehow relevant; a reference to a mass shooting at a university in Crimea... Are they trying to depoliticize this attack and chock it up to workaday random mass violence??? If any Russian readers can access his social media account please submit his message before the attack. My guess is that it has something to do with the recent tortures of anti-fascists in Russia.]

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-46043424?fbclid=IwAR0Pw9LuDW836bwr...

Tags: Russiadirect actionMSMZhlobitsky Mikhail Vasilyevichcategory: International
Categories: News

Brazil: The Alternative to Fascism Is not Democracy

Wed, 10/31/2018 - 15:14

via Crimethinc.

In Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, fascist proponent of dictatorship and mass killings, has won the election. Who needs a military coup when you use voting to accomplish exactly the same thing? We’ve already explored in detail how the left and centrist parties paved the way for this. From Brazil to France, parties across the political spectrum have lost all pretense of offering any solution to social problems other than escalating state violence. In this context, it’s not surprising that politicians who explicitly represent the police and military are coming to power, as they have become the linchpin of the state itself.

Our hearts go out to our comrades in Brazil, who have already experienced a tremendous amount of state repression and capitalist violence—and will now face far worse. Perhaps the immediate resistance that greeted the election of Donald Trump can serve as a useful reference point. Yet because of the specific ways Brazil is on the receiving end of colonialist violence, the wave of nationalism that has already crested in the United States and Europe will involve considerably more brutal violence there. We call on everyone around the world to prepare to mobilize in solidarity with those who are targeted in the attacks that Bolsonaro has promised to carry out.

As anarchists, we don’t believe that elections grant legitimacy to any ruling party. No election could legitimize police violence, homophobia, racism, or misogyny in our eyes, nor prisons, borders, or the destruction of the natural world on which everyone’s survival depends. No vote could give a mandate to anyone who wants to dominate others. Majority rule is as repugnant to us as dictatorship: both make coercion the fundamental basis of politics.

The important question is not how to improve democracy; fundamentally, democracy is a means of legitimizing governments so that people will accept their impositions, no matter how tyrannical and oppressive those may be. The important question is how to defend each other from the violence of the state; how to find ways to meet our needs that don’t depend on unanimity or coercion; how to collaborate and coexist rather than competing for power. As more and more oppressive regimes take power around the world, we have to have done with our illusions about “good” democratic government and organize to protect each other by any means necessary.

The opposite of fascism is not democracy. The opposition of fascism is freedom; it is solidarity; it is direct action; it is resistance. But it is not democracy. Democracy, yet again, has been the mechanism that brought fascists to power.


Students at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro demonstrate against police raids carried out ahead of the election. The police confiscated posters proclaiming “Jewish students against fascism” and depicting murdered activist Marielle Franco.


Over the past several months, our comrades in Brazil, Greece, and Germany have all published translations of From Democracy to Freedom, our analysis of the common threads that connect democracy and dictatorship. We offer those translations here—in case the Brazilian group’s site unexpectedly goes offline—along with an English translation of the epilogue to the German translation. Our comrades in Germany are also organizing public presentations about the book.

For more on why the democratic movements of 2010-2014 reached an impasse, enabling far-right groups to appropriate their rhetoric and seize the initiative, read this analysis we published ahead of the Swedish elections last month.


Click the image to download From Democracy to Freedom in Portuguese.



Click the image to download From Democracy to Freedom in Greek. This is the first chapter of the book; other chapters have been translated, but are not yet available.



You can order the German translation of From Democracy to Freedom here. You can download a draft version of the first chapter in PDF form here.


Epilogue from the German Publishers

Before this book was published, we presented discussions about democracy together with comrades from the US and Slovenia in autonomous centers around Germany. Although none of the texts in From Democracy to Freedom explicitly deals with the situation in Germany, that does not mean that we have not had quite similar experiences—on the contrary.

The State

A few weeks before the federal election in 2017, a propaganda truck was driving around on behalf of the Bundestag, the German federal parliament. They were distributing baseball caps and candies featuring the Bundesadler, the coat of arms of the Weimar Republic (which is back in service to today’s German government), as well as propaganda films for students about parliamentary democracy. The organizers emphasized how democratic Germany is. This sort of advertising offensive was obviously necessary for a system that has good reason to fear for its own legitimacy.



The Parties

All parties represented in the Bundestag claim that democracy as one of their central issues. The SPD wants to risk trying more democracy, like Willy Brandt said; the Green party wants to expand democracy; the Left just wants more democracy; Christian Democrats want to strengthen democracy; liberals want to revive democracy; and the racist, neo-fascist AfD presents itself as a party for direct democracy. The entry of the AfD into parliament confirms once again that advocacy for direct democracy is hardly a guarantee of emancipatory politics.

Whatever we do, whatever we demand, we should always make sure to emphasize why we are struggling, so as to protect our ideas and rhetoric from appropriation by conservative or fascist groups who fight for the exact opposite of what we are fighting for.



“Civil Society”

Those who pursue initiatives for “more” or “real” democracy like to present themselves as courageous or even revolutionary fighters against the prevailing political order—when in fact, they only want another kind of representation. Conferences with names such as “Democracy Needs Movement” are an example of this development. As people who express ourselves uncompromisingly against any form of democracy, we nevertheless spoke there; people raised their eyebrows at us because our positions and goals cannot be implemented in the context of a better democracy.

For many, it is impossible to imagine that there could be anything else. This is one of the problems with democracy: it narrows down what we can imagine.



The Movement

In anti-capitalist struggles in Berlin, we met people who appeared to believe that making signs with their hands during meetings represented the epitome of revolutionary behavior. Some people told us that the methods of communication and decision-making should take priority over the results. Some didn’t see it as a problem that their chosen form of decision-making resulted in the permanent obstruction of any meaningful form of activity.

All this, because for the first time in their lives, they understood themselves as an important part of an apparatus. We were expected not to destroy this feeling of finally getting it right. We did it anyway.

We tried to adapt to the proposed rules of “non-violent activists” in order to be able to cooperate with them. In the process of making decisions with them, we used the right of veto to block a decision that seemed intolerable to us. We discovered that our veto was less important than other people’s veto. In the end, we had to discuss whether there could be a veto against our veto.

Once again, we saw that the official methods of decision-making only last as long as they serve the interests of those who introduced them.

When we were part of the discussions preparing the blockading actions at the G20 summit, we decided to be strategic: we sat in different positions in the meetings, we split up into different working groups. We did this to prevent worse attempts at manipulation, to block authoritarian attempts to control the process from the very beginning, to influence the discourse. Doing this, we learned something about our own power potential—and it scared us. We saw that we could play this game too: we knew the mechanisms and we could play the same tricks. We knew how and when to formulate a question if we wanted to be the ones who determine how the discussion would go—how to fix the order of the points on the agenda—when to set the start time of a meeting. Sometimes we were not just afraid of ourselves, but also disgusted—because on the way to overthrowing all authority, we were tempted simply to seek to get our own piece of the cake.

This experience gives us all the more reason to be critical of the democratic framework.

We have not only encountered the debate about democracy in practical struggles on the street. We can also find it in a few theoretical texts from German-speaking countries. We can recommend two such publications here:

Christoph Spehr, Die Aliens sind unter uns. Herrschaft und Befreiung im
demokratischen Zeitalter

Jörg Bergstedt, Demokratie. Die Herrschaft des Volkes. Eine Abrechnung

Tags: Crimethinc.brazilcategory: Essays
Categories: News

Finding a way forward

Wed, 10/31/2018 - 06:18

From The South Essex Heckler

Preamble

This piece has arisen from a discussion – The Future of Working Class Anarchism – that took place at the London Action Resource Centre as part of the Not The Anarchist Bookfair event on Saturday 20th October 2018. It was also inspired by this piece from Lisa Mckenzie: The Future of Working Class Anarchism: It’s about class struggle or it’s about nothing.

One of the themes of the discussion was the perception there’s too much of a middle class influence in anarchism and that working class voices are being drowned out. Another was asking why would any working class person fed up with the way things are going look at the anarchist movement as offering some kind of viable radical alternative. Following on from dealing with the above two themes, there was a discussion about how the working class can find a voice within anarchism.

Barriers

The kind of anarchism we want is one that looks outwards and draws our class into being involved with it. The question that has to be asked is this – is there anything in the anarchist movement as it stands that will attract an ordinary working class punter from the estates? As things stand at the moment, it has to be said that the way the anarchist movement currently presents itself is not going to have people in our class flocking in their droves to join it. There are a number of factors that could explain this.

One is the kind of language used in a lot of anarchist publications which assumes a certain level of prior understanding of terminology and concepts. It’s not that what is being written or said is wrong – it’s that to all intents and purposes, it appears to be directed at other activists. Again there’s nothing wrong with that – there are conversations we need to have with each other as activists. However, if we want to achieve the radical change we seek, we have to be open and accessible and to be able to explain our concepts and analysis without resorting to complicated jargon.

Another is meetings and discussions. Think of the people from our class that you know and ask yourself – would you seriously want to invite them to an anarchist meeting? It has been said to me that anyone outside of the movement would be nervous about making a contribution at a meeting for fear of inadvertently causing offence or speaking out of turn because they’re not aware of the forms of language and conventions that govern many anarchist meetings. These forms of language and conventions were developed with the good intention of avoiding unnecessary upset and ensuring the more marginalised had their say but they have tended to evolve into an end in themselves as opposed to a means to an end.

Explain your concepts and terminology

Intersectionality, privilege, cis, binary…the list goes on of the terminology that gets used in anarchist circles and publications. There’s nothing wrong with the terms and concepts in and of themselves – it’s just that it feels like anyone entering the movement has to learn a new language and ways of conducting themselves. Operating out on the estates, we’ve never heard anyone use this kind of terminology. If the concepts were actually explained in a comprehensible way, most people on the estates would probably be able to understand and relate to them. That’s simply because quite often, they describe what is actually their experience in living on an estate with issues of deprivation.

Regarding intersectionality, simply talking to working class people on the doorstep brings home the fact that while people obviously experience issues because of their class, other aspects such as sexual discrimination, disability and ethnicity also have an impact as well. It should be a matter of common sense to recognise that these issues overlap with each other and that a bit more nuance is needed when coming up with an analysis of a situation.

An analysis which highlights the levels of discrimination and oppression people endure should be getting used in a way that draws different struggles together. It’s certainly something that can be used to draw attention to the cynical use of divide and rule and to highlight the way that various oppressions overlap each other and why struggles against them should strive to achieve unity while acknowledging the different experiences of the various groups involved. The hope being that it will generate solidarity between a range of groups on the basis of all for one and one for all.

One issue that has to be dealt with in unifying a range of struggles is acknowledging that some people face more in the way of discrimination and oppression than others. What needs to be born in mind is that while recognising that someone is getting screwed over in more ways than you are, is that it’s not done in a patronising way. This is simply because from our experience, people who are having to deal with multiple oppressions can turn out to be the most effective and feisty campaigners going!

This is privilege theory. Which should be the decent and common sense acknowledgement of when someone is more oppressed / discriminated against than you are and acting accordingly to show solidarity and support. One of the problems of privilege theory is that it can come across as a hierarchy of victimhood. When it becomes understood as such, it becomes a real problem as it denies people the agency to fight back against the system that’s oppressing them.

Giving people being screwed over by multiple oppressions a voice shouldn’t be a box ticking exercise – it should be a learning experience for all involved. People who are being oppressed on multiple fronts generally have a pretty sharp perception of what’s wrong with the social, political and economic order as it stands and what needs to be done to change things. Listening to them talk not just about their oppressions but how they fight back against them is a learning experience. In other words, let people more oppressed than you have a voice because more often than not, they have a valid contribution to make to the struggle.

The struggles of cleaners, delivery workers and others across London is a case in point. In London, these sectors are primarily operated by migrant labour who refuse to accept their allotted role of cheap, disposable labour and they’re vigorously fighting back against that with demands for decent pay and to be respected for what they do. Somehow, while they will acknowledge the multiple oppressions they experience, I don’t think they will recognise the hierarchy of victimhood that some proponents of privilege theory describe.

Why we need to get away from liberal, middle class activists

Intersectionality and privilege theory are useful analytical tools that when applied properly, explain the structure of the oppressive systems we’re battling against. They’re like any tool – they have to be used properly to get the right outcome. A hammer in the right hands is an incredibly useful tool – in the wrong hands it can do a heck of a lot of damage! The problems arise when intersectionality and privilege theory are appropriated by liberal elements who have more or less given up on attempting any form of radical systemic change and who implicitly or explicitly accept things as they are and effectively end up asking people to be nicer to each other.

The result of this is that privilege theory ends up creating a hierarchy of oppression where those who are deemed to be less oppressed are expected to allow those who are more oppressed to have more of a say, not because those who are more oppressed might have some useful insights into the power structures that are screwing them but simply in order to be nice to them. This is when intersectionality and privilege theory end up as a self-defeating, patronising form of identity politics that does nothing to bring about change and effectively puts people in a box they can’t move out of.

That is down to the middle class influence in radical and anarchist circles. Sure we understand that a fair number of young middle class people are struggling to get on the property ladder and that their prospects may well not be as good as their parents. However, many still have the advantage of knowing that if the system cannot be overthrown, they will still manage to get by and enjoy a much better life than many working class people who know they’re being thrown under the bus. Without wanting to sound too harsh, you could be forgiven for thinking that for many middle class activists, it’s all a bit of a game. For working class people and communities, it’s increasingly about survival. That’s why we have to have our voice in anarchism.

Prolier than thou?

Just because we’re working class anarchists, it doesn’t mean our concerns are narrowed down to material ones such as housing, employment, pay and community cohesion. If we did adopt such a narrow range of concerns, we could well end up on the road to reformism as opposed to the revolution we desperately need. What we want to do is put our experiences and lives in the broader context of a dysfunctional capitalist system that is destroying the planet.

So, just because we’re working class it doesn’t mean that we’re not concerned about the environment. Living where we do in Thurrock in an area that has one of the highest rates of air pollution in the country, faced with another six lane motorway and river crossing which will only exacerbate the situation, environmental concerns are pretty high up on our agenda. The predominantly working class residents of Canvey Island which at high tide is almost entirely below sea level will obviously be concerned about rising sea levels and climate change induced extreme weather events which could overwhelm their sea defences.

Issues of sexuality and gender identity are also a concern to us. Patriarchal capitalism values the family on the basis of the free labour needed for social reproduction, mainly provided by women. The existence of LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Trans, Queer) people poses a challenge to patriarchal capitalist assumptions about the role of the family and the provision of social reproduction for free. Because LGBTQ people challenge those assumptions, they are seen as a threat to the system. How does the system respond? By divide and rule. LGB people have been finding themselves co-opted by big business with an ever increasing amount of corporate dosh sponsoring Gay Pride events. Meanwhile trans people face ongoing vilification and discrimination. As working class activists, we abhor any attempts at co-option and divide and rule so on that basis, we take an interest in issues surrounding sexuality and gender identity.

Reaching out

Efforts are being made to encourage a working class anarchism that can reach out to its own without the stifling, jargon filled influence of academic anarchism. Those efforts are about maintaining and expanding our own anarchist culture that will attract people from our class. The Rebel City paper has evolved from what was pretty much a paper written by anarchists for other anarchists to a punchier, sharper and visually more attractive publication that can reach out to the wider population. We’re constantly working to evolve this blog and our paper to be one that takes on the concerns of people out in Essex who’ve had enough of the way things are and who are looking for answers and solutions. These are works in progress and we’re constantly revising and tweaking them to ensure that we are relevant to our class.

While we want to overthrow a system that has passed it’s use by date, our class is not going to be impressed by a defiant stance for the sake of it. Our class will be impressed by a politics that empowers them to start fighting back against the system and to build the just, sane and sustainable society that we deserve. Our class will be impressed by results, particularly when it’s their collective autonomous action that has brought them about.

We recognise that our class is far from perfect and contains racist, reactionary elements. Part of that is down to the enduring legacy of empire when the British ruling class threw just enough of their imperial plunder at the working class to buy significant elements of them off. While the project of empire didn’t entirely eliminate revolutionary sentiment in Britain, it certainly did enough to dampen it down so it could be contained. In a period where it feels that significant political, social and economic change is off the agenda, there is a tendency for some sections of the working class to fall for the siren voices of the far right and the myths they spin about British and English identity. Having said that, there are a growing number of working class people who have been thrown under the bus and who can see through the myths the establishment desperately spin in a bid to keep them onside and keep the lid on the situation as the future becomes ever more precarious and volatile.

Our project is built on listening to the concerns of our class and using the ensuing discussion to persuade them that fundamental change is needed. Listening does not mean pandering to any prejudices they express. When some residents on one of the estates we operate on started making comments about the traffic issues arising from the use of one of the community hall as a mosque, we crafted this response that helped them point the finger of blame in the right direction: A few thoughts on neighbourhood community halls. When Basildon Labour Party cynically decided to play on anti-traveller sentiment in the area in one of their election leaflets, we called them out on it: Basildon Labour s*** stirring over traveller sites.

Building radical change from the grassroots upwards

In an age of rampant neo-liberalism, society is becoming ever more fractured, atomised and polarised. With increasingly precarious employment conditions that are dumping more and more people on zero hours and short term contracts, solidarity in the workplace is under attack. With the housing crisis, an increase in buy to let and homes of multiple occupation, our neighbourhoods are becoming more atomised with community solidarity crumbling as a result of people moving in and out on short term lets and not staying long enough to generate a sense of belonging.

This is exactly what the neo-liberal elite want, fractured workplaces and neighbourhoods where people are focused on just surviving in a dog eat dog world and becoming ever more individualistic in their approach to life. People who take this approach to dealing with what life throws at them are less inclined to favour collective solutions in either the workplace or their neighbourhoods. It’s these people who are unwittingly doing the bidding of the neo-liberal elite.

People on the estates feel they’ve been thrown under the bus and have lost faith in the political system – this is reflected in low voter registration and turn outs at local and national elections. This creates a political vacuum which the far right are only too happy to try and fill. This is why we see having a presence at the grassroots on the estates as one part of the strategy needed to fend off the threat from the far right.

Radical change will not happen without the willing participation of the working class. To build that participation, there has to be a base at the grassroots in our neighbourhoods as well as in our workplaces and colleges. The challenge of re-building solidarity in the workplace is starting to be met by the rise of militant so called ‘fringe unions’ such as the United Voices of the World Union who we offer our unconditional solidarity to. As community activists, our focus of operation in building the base needed for radical change has to be the neighbourhoods we live in.

Working at the level of the neighbourhood, our task is to do whatever is needed to empower people living on the estates. The ultimate aim of this empowerment is to give life to the old Independent Working Class Association slogan: Working Class Rule In Working Class Areas. This is very easy to say – putting it into practice is a hard slog where we’re constantly learning lessons from our experiences and using them to alter and refine our approach. To achieve results in doing what we do, we can’t afford to stick to a rigid dogma – we have to be flexible and pragmatic while at the same time, bearing in mind our ultimate objective of revolution.

Empowering people on the estates and encouraging them to become more ambitious in their demands and aspirations is a step by step process. Being a part of this process means accepting that we’re in this for the long haul. The hope is that what we do on the few estates where we do have a presence a) inspires more people on these estates to get involved and b) inspires people on other estates to start doing the same.

At all times we bear in mind our ultimate aim of radical political, social and economic change. There’s no single, easily defined route to get to that point. It’s a case of nurturing quite a few different strands and over time, gradually bringing them together and picking up momentum along the way. Which is why we deploy a variety of tactics to support our overall strategy.

Conclusion

What is heartening is that we’re not alone in understanding the need to work at the grassroots with people as they are and build from there. This extract from the Statements page of the Anarchist Communist Group pretty much chimes with how we operate: Without being part of working class struggles we cannot hope to convince people that a revolution is both desirable and possible. In addition, we need to be explaining to people what anarchism is, giving possible ideas of what a future society might look like as well as give an anarchist analysis of what is going on at the moment. We cannot get anywhere by staying within our own ghettos, relating only to people who agree with us and writing for social media sites that are only read by the already ‘converted’. The tendency towards practices that are inward-looking, destructive, self-referential, etc. is not revolutionary. You need an outward-looking, expansive, genuinely inclusive approach that accepts degrees of difference if you want to change the world – or simply save your local library or support a group of workers in struggle.

Tags: working classLondonmovementcategory: Essays
Categories: News

Beer & Rage: Anarchy is NOT Order! Anarchy is NOT Chaos!

Tue, 10/30/2018 - 23:24

In this two-part series, we discuss the common misconceptions around anarchy/anarchism. While the public may misconceive anarchism as wanting chaos, many of those who call themselves anarchist would posit that anarchism is order. We would argue that anarchy/anarchism exists outside of this dichotomy, and that order/chaos are merely forms of rulership, not the absence of rulers.

https://youtu.be/YBA_-O9AjL4

https://youtu.be/VLOF8Fes73w

Tags: Beerorderchaosbeer and ragevideoYouTubecategory: Projects
Categories: News

The Post-Modern Anarchist Revolution

Tue, 10/30/2018 - 23:17

From Dissident Voice

by Michel Luc Bellemare / October 26th, 2018

Because post-modernism does not go far enough, because post-modernism has not reached the zenith and apex of its critique and programme due to the fact it has been divorced from its motor force, anarchism, revolution/insurrection is unavoidable. In fact, post-modernism demands it. It demands the total realization of anarchism, that is, its own essence. Post-modernism demands the full-maturation of its inherent principles, radical equality, radical plurality and the total demolition of all meta-narratives. Its only recourse is post-modern anarchist revolution.

In contrast, the meta-narrative of bourgeois-capitalism impedes post-modern growth and post-modern development at every turn. And, bourgeois-capitalism refuses to secede its rule and its dominion to intelligence and the future, calmly and quietly. As a result, revolution is unavoidable and a must. The revolution is a post-modern anarchist revolution. Namely, a revolution organized to overthrow all the lasting meta-narratives of the Enlightenment, specifically, bourgeois-capitalism. The objective of the post-modern anarchist revolution is nothing less than radical plurality, radical equality, and radical pragmatic-egalitarianism in all its shapes and forms.

Nothing must be left unchanged. The post-modern anarchist revolution shall reach its logical conclusion, only when anarchist demolitionism rids the earth of the Enlightenment meta-narrative of bourgeois-capitalism, including the state-finance-corporate-aristocracy built and sustained upon it.

Paraphrasing Karl Marx that “the capitalist mode of production…begets, with the inexorability of a natural process, its own negation, [wherefore]…the development of …industry…cuts from under its feet [its] very foundation”1 According to Nikolai Bukharin, revolutions emanate from the antagonism between the forces of production and the relations of production, inside the dominant mode of production of an epoch. As Bukharin states:

The cause of revolution, of a violent transition from one type [of society] to another, must be sought in a conflict proceeding between the productive forces, and their growth, on the one hand, and…the production relations on the other hand.2

In essence, it is the radical disconnect between the productive forces of a society and its production relations, inside a dominant mode of production, which, if not rectified, eventually results in the violent overthrow of society; that is, the violent overthrow of the current, dominant, socio-economic framework of a society.

Specifically, according to both Marx and Bukharin, this is exactly what happened with the rise of bourgeois-capitalism and the capitalist mode of production on the back of the feudalist mode of production. However, whereas, Bukharin argues that revolutions are due to the productive forces having outgrown the envelope of production relations for post-modern anarchism, it is the other way around. It is the networks of production relations which outgrow the productive forces and, in effect, begin to press heavily upon the productive forces so as to make them evolve or perish. New relations of production require new organizational forms of production; i.e., new configurations of productive forces. In essence, new networks of relations embody new sets of requirements. And, this demand for new requirements places undue pressure upon the forces of production. They must meet these new requirements through reorganization or perish.

For Bukharin and Marx, “the evolution of the production relations is conditioned by the movement of the productive forces”3, while, for post-modern anarchism, it is vice versa. It is the evolution of the productive forces that is conditioned by the movement of the relations of production. Namely, demand determines supply, consumption determines production. Therefore, contrary to Bukharin and Marx, it is the new requirements of the relations of production which stimulate the technological evolution of the productive forces. And, when the productive forces cannot evolve to accommodate the new parameters and expansions of the relations of production, revolution, catastrophe, and crisis ensues in order to re-configure the sum of the productive forces along a new set of relations, a new mode of production. It is relations which inevitably drag the forces of production into the future.

Indeed, in a rare slip, Bukharin acknowledges the supremacy of socio-economic relations over the productive forces when he states:

It is upon the production relations of cooperation [and equality], maturing in the womb of capitalist production relations, in general, that the temple of the future will rest”.4

Meaning, it is the relations of production, not the productive forces, which is the bedrock for any revolutionary change.

Contrary to Bukharin, according to post-modern anarchism, productive forces only buttress socio-economic relations, they do not determine their form and content. The productive forces mirror and reflect the relations of production. It is the relations of production which constantly bring forth new forces of production so as to maintain and perpetuate themselves, not the other way around as Marx and Bukharin would have us believe. As a result, revolutions stem from the active side of the antagonism between the forces of production and the relations of production, inside a dominant mode of production. In short, it is the living and dynamic relations of production that instigate revolution, not the dead and static productive forces of capital.

Contradicting his own notion of the supremacy of the productive forces over the relations of production, Bukharin even states “revolutions [always] begin… with ideology [and end with] technical revolutions, a sort of reverse order, as it were,”5 where, in the final analysis, relations of production are deemed superior to the productive forces in the sense that it is always the relations of production which lead the way into the future. Therefore, according to post-modern anarchism, it is the dynamic socio-economic relationships, which interweave the social fabric and exert command over the forces of production, which instigate revolution, not the forces of production. The revolution of the relations of production precede the revolution of the forces of production, not vice versa.

Revolutions begin in, and across, the relations of production and end with the re-arrangement and transformation of the forces of production, which are violently re-configured, or transformed, anew to service the newly established networks of productive relations, which have arisen prior, during, and after the revolution.

And, whenever conceptual and material acts of demolitionism transpire in large numbers in and across everyday life, socio-economic relations have developed new needs and new requirements. And, these new needs and requirements are pressing evermore upon the old organizational forms of the productive forces. In effect, the forces of production and their organizational forms have remained stagnant and, because of this, increasing acts of demolition have ensued. As a result, for post-modern anarchism, technological revolutions are founded on new relations of production, that is, socio-economic relations, demanding more evolved productive forces, which better align with the new requirements of these newly-minted relations. In short, technological revolutions do not precede new relations of production. They develop and grow out of them so as to accommodate the new set of relational requirements. Demolitionism is a consequence of this conflict and these crises.

Following Bukharin’s notion that the initial step towards revolution “takes place when…objective evolution places the oppressed…in an intolerable situation…causing [the oppressed] to feel clearly that no improvement can be obtained under the existing order”6, a gestalt-switch is needed. In turn, post-modern anarchism stipulates that revolutions begin with disillusionment and nihilism; i.e., radical shifts in the relations of production, rather than radical shifts in the forces of production. As Bakunin states, the people “are made revolutionary by necessity, by the intolerable realities of their lives, their violent hatreds…[being] illegitimately diverted to support…the exploiters of labor,…the bourgeoisie”.7 Consequently, for post-modern anarchism, akin to Bukharin, it is intolerable situations, whatever these may be, arising from the networks of productive relations, which stimulate revolutionary change and acts of demolition.

Contrary to Bukharin, Marx and the communists, it is not the evolution of the productive forces which drive societies towards revolution, it is the evolution of the relations of production. It is outmoded and obsolete forces of production, which are made outmoded and obsolete by the arrival of new relations, new ways of connecting, arising out of the bustling daily-interactions of people, which drive societies towards revolution. It is not the forces of production. The reason is that productive forces are inanimate, passive and, in the end, their evolution is guided by the relations of production while, in contrast, the relations of production are animate and active, constantly bustling and buzzing with frenetic activity. It is the frenetic networks of relations which inadvertently prompt abrupt leaps and breaks with the old organizational framework of productive relations and forces of production. This is what sparks revolutions, demolitions and radical social change.

Indeed, from the perspective of post-modern anarchism, the initial catalyst to revolution is radical social change in the old networks of socio-economic relations, prompting radical change in the old networks of productive relations, which in turn, themselves, increasingly come to weigh heavily upon the old forces of production. The old mode of production either re-organizes itself and/or succumbs to bolder and bolder acts of demolitionism.

If the old forces of production are able to evolve and meet the new requirements of the newly, re-configured, socio-economic relations, then crisis is rectified and averted. If not, the new requirements of the newly, re-configured, socio-economic relations smash the old organizational form of the forces of production into irreparable pieces, resulting in systemic breakdown, revolution, demolition, and eventually, the re-configuration of society upon a new foundation, that is, a new mode of production. Namely, a new mode of production that is more conducive to the new burgeoning networks of socio-economic relations; i.e., the new relations which have thrown-off the old production relations, including their old organizational form.

In short, all evolutionary and revolutionary capacities lie within the evolutionary and revolutionary capabilities inherent in the networks of socio-economic relations. The litany of competitive dynamic interactions within the networks of socio-economic relations, either spearheads technological revolution and the continued stability of the meta-narrative of bourgeois-capitalism; or instead, results in the demolition of the meta-narrative of bourgeois-capitalism and the foundation upon which this meta-narrative is welded and bonded. If the bourgeois-capitalist mode of production is a vertical, centralized, homogeneous mode of production, which it is, then, in all likelihood, the post-modern, anarchist mode of production is, or shall be, a horizontal, decentralized, heterogeneous mode of production, that is, a set of multiple modes of production centred around autonomy, equality and heterogeneity, rather than bourgeois-capitalist unity, inequality and uniformity, namely, any omnipresent bourgeois herd-mediocrity.

Part II

According to Bukharin, over an extended period of time, it is inevitable that “production relations [become such an] emphatic…brake on the evolution of the productive forces that [both productive forces and production relations] simply must be broken up if society is to continue to develop”.8 And, if the productive forces, including the relations that direct these productive forces, are not burst asunder in order to accommodate the newly-minted socio-economic relations, then, according to Bukharin, “the entire society will become stagnant and retrogressive; i.e., it will enter upon a period of decay”.9 Such is the case with the Enlightenment meta-narrative of bourgeois-capitalism and the bourgeois-capitalist system. It is stagnant and retrogressive in nature and, thus, must be demolished and burst asunder as bourgeois herd-mediocrity reigns supreme, along with a degenerate, state-finance-corporate-aristocracy.

Essentially, the entire contemporary capitalist edifice and the bourgeois socio-economic landscape have descended into a stagnant, retrogressive period of decay, because the old socio-economic relations of bourgeois-capitalism, best exemplified in the ruling oligarchy, cling fanatically to the outmoded capitalist-mode of production. They cling to a set of socio-economic relations which, in fact, hinder socio-economic development, stifling growth and the advent of the post-modern/anarchist age.

Indeed, an outmoded capitalist mode of production, bent on continuing ad infinitum, invariably kills off anything, or anyone, which threatens its rule, even if this means killing off any possibility of socio-economic growth and/or development. Specifically, the senile capitalist-mode of production and its antiquated, state-finance-corporate-aristocracy, are resolved to stifle all new sets of burgeoning relations of production, which might be antithetical to the meta-narrative of bourgeois-capitalism and its own existence.

Therefore, today, the objective of bourgeois-capitalism is to maintain the trajectory of socio-economic retrogression and decay, by any means necessary, since the outdated capitalist mode of production supports a small antiquated elite, whose survival is welded to the failing capitalist mode of production. In short, the senile capitalist mode of production supports a specific set of organizational relations over another subset of organizational relations, which threaten its rule. Consequently, the proponents of the outdated capitalist mode of production; i.e., the state-finance-corporate-aristocracy, deny with certain religious-fanaticism, the basic fact that western societies have entered into a period of terminal, socio-economic retrogression and decay.

In fact, the reality of this retrogression and decay is emphatically denied and passed-over in silence by the ruling institutions of the ruling relations of production. In contrast, such socio-economic retrogression and decay is passed-off onto the general-population as a form of socio-economic progress and development via elitist propagandist machines. That is, the empty-celebratory monologue of bourgeois-capitalism, droning on and on, ad nauseam, celebrating bourgeois-centrism as the most reasonable and the most revolutionary. In effect, today, the monologue of bourgeois-capitalism drones on and on throughout the capitalist mass media, about the glorious superiority of bourgeois-capitalism over all other forms of organization. Wherefore, to be reasonable is to be bourgeois and to be bourgeois is to be part of the capitalist vanguard, a dependable stern proponent of the meta-narrative of bourgeois-capitalism.

Notwithstanding, according to Mikhail Bakunin, revolutions are a natural fact. They occur regardless of any controlled preparations undertaken by the ruling powers that reign over capitalist society. Indeed, states Bakunin:

Revolutions [are] a natural fact…[they do] not take place according to a preconceived plan but [are] produced by uncontrollable circumstances, which no individual, [or group] can [predict or] command.10

Therefore, similar to Marx’s claim that “crises can only be educed from…capitalist production, competition and credit”11 and, in the final analysis, are truly unpredictable. For Bakunin, revolutions are as well an inescapable fact of the capitalist mode of production and bourgeois-capitalism, in general.

For, both Bakunin and Marx, “capital contains within itself the possibilities of [endless] interruptions”12 interruptions, which are in essence unpredictable, random, and at times, explosive. Consequently, a post-modern anarchist revolution is a revolution founded upon “local and spontaneous organization”13, an organization, which mirrors and reflects the seeming spontaneity and randomness of economic crisis. The post-modern anarchist revolution is in essence incessant interruption, without end or solution, culminating in the demolition of the meta-narrative of bourgeois-capitalism, namely, a total gestalt-switch and paradigm-shift.

Like Bakunin’s notion of revolution, the post-modern anarchist revolution is a revolution sparked by an intolerable situation, requiring nothing less than a total gestalt-switch and paradigm-shift, requesting:

freedom for all individuals as well as collective bodies, associations, communes, provinces, regions. [Such a revolution]…seeks the confirmation of…equality [for all] by [establishing] economic equality [for all]. [Of course,] this is not the removal of natural differences, but equality in the social rights of every individual from birth… [to] equal means of subsistence, support, education…and equal resources and [access to] facilities [for all].14

Therefore, the objective of any post-modern anarchist insurrection is to do away with all meta-narratives, specifically, the meta-narrative of bourgeois-capitalism, while establishing a series of anti-capitalist and post-capitalist institutions, which emphasize maximum equality, autonomy and heterogeneity. As a result, to quote Bakunin:

The post-modern anarchist revolution starts by destroying, above all, all…[bourgeois-capitalist] institutions and…[bourgeois-capitalist relationship] organizations [like] churches, parliaments, tribunals, administrations, banks, universities, etc., which constitute the lifeblood of the [bourgeois-capitalist] state. [The bourgeois-capitalist] state must be entirely demolished and declared bankrupt…[so] the people in the…[anarchist] communes [may collectively] confiscate…all state property [for themselves].15

To have a successful post-modern anarchist revolution, it is necessary to pragmatically demolish, both conceptually and materially, bourgeois-capitalist socio-economic conditions; i.e., capitalist forces of production and capitalist relations of production, in order to install a patchwork plurality of autonomous-collectives, narratives and worker-cooperatives.

Specifically, a successful post-modern anarchist revolution will demolish the concept of private property and the bourgeois-state so as to foster forms of communal organization that maximize equality, autonomy and heterogeneity. To quote Bakunin, the goal is to have a society where all micro-narratives have equal access to resources, in relative equal measure, whereupon no-one is privileged over anyone else and “workers take possession of all [forms of] capital and the tools of production”16, whether, these are conceptual tools and/or material tools. No meta-narrative must be allowed to have dominion over the plethora of micro-narratives, sharing the sum of capital, in relative equal measure.

In brief, the post-modern anarchist “revolution requires extensive and widespread destruction, a fecund and renovating destruction, since in this way, and only this way, are new worlds, [relations and productive forces] born”.17 The ultimate goal of any post-modern anarchist “revolution is the extirpation of the principle of [totalitarian] authority”.18 That is, it is the eradication and demolition of all despotic, overarching meta-narratives, specifically, the meta-narrative of bourgeois-capitalism in favor of a horizontal-constellation of microscopic narratives, sharing the sum of socio-economic resources equally. Namely, a horizontal-constellation of micro-narratives which exercise decision-making-authority, among themselves, with relative equal force, devoid of any centralized, hierarchical, state-apparatus or meta-narrative.

In sum, any post-modern anarchist revolution, including any post-modern, anarchist, socio-economic formation, is a type of heterogeneous formation exercising power “from all points. [Whereupon, power does] not depend on a single directing center. [In effect,] the center [is] not…the source, but the product [of the periphery.] [It is] not the cause, but, the effect”19 of the peripheral, horizontal-constellation of micro-narratives. This set of peripheral micro-narratives, determining the political-economic center, are to be organized in a manner by which they can freely express their localized authority together, onto one another, in relative equal measure, where none is superior to another. The result is an equilibrium of force and power between a varying array of horizontally organized micro-narratives. These micro-narratives are to function and operate together, as a loose shifting federation or collective-patchwork, devoid of any overarching meta-narratives, specifically, the meta-narrative of bourgeois-capitalism. They are to function and operate as an open-participatory-democracy.

All told, the post-modern anarchist revolution is perpetual. It is permanent. It is the demolition of meta-narratives, bourgeois-capitalism, without end. The post-modern anarchist revolution shall reach its end only when the earth trembles from end to end with the awesome power of demolitionism, that is, post-modern anarchism!

  1. Karl Marx, Capital (Volume One), Trans. Ben Fowkes, (London Eng.: Penguin, 1990) pp. 929-930. []
  2. Nikolai Bukharin, Historical Materialism: (A System of Sociology), (New York, New York: International Publishers, Martino Publishing, 1925) p. 249. []
  3. Ibid, p. 244. []
  4. Ibid, p. 253. []
  5. Ibid, p. 262. []
  6. Ibid, p. 256. []
  7. Mikhail Bakunin, Bakunin On Anarchy, ed. Sam Dolgoff, (New York: Vintage Books, 1972) pp. 191-192. []
  8. Nikolai Bukharin, Historical Materialism: (A System of Sociology), (New York, New York: International Publishers, Martino Publishing, 1925) p. 249. []
  9. Ibid, p. 249. []
  10. Mikhail Bakunin, Bakunin On Anarchy, ed. Sam Dolgoff, (New York: Vintage Books, 1972), p. 357. []
  11. Nikolai Bukharin, “Crisis Theory”, The Marx-Engels Reader, ed. Robert C. Tucker (New York, New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 1978) p. 455. []
  12. Ibid, p. 464. []
  13. Mikhail Bakunin, Bakunin On Anarchy, ed. Sam Dolgoff, (New York: Vintage Books, 1972) p.180. []
  14. Ibid, pp. 96-97. []
  15. Ibid, p. 100. []
  16. Ibid, p. 358. []
  17. Ibid, p. 334. []
  18. Ibid, p. 202. []
  19. Ibid, p. 180. []
Michel Luc Bellemare is the author of The Structural-Anarchism Manifesto: (The Logic of Structural-Anarchism Versus The Logic of Capitalism) Read other articles by Michel Luc. Tags: revolutionatrPost-Modernismcategory: Essays
Categories: News

The proletariat of Brazil was defeated by democracy, not dictatorship.

Mon, 10/29/2018 - 18:47

From Ediciones Ineditos

The following is analysis from a Chilean comrade. While we don't agree with the final statements, we feel the analysis in this is rather illuminating for this moment. After our English translation follows the original Spanish.atopos

The far-right has never ascended to political power to then destroy the working-class and halt its revolution. Each time the far-right has come to power it is because the working-class has already been destroyed. By whom? By democracy. By progressivism. By the Left.

If Bolsonaro won the elections it is because before his arrival the three previous successive governments of the PT [Brazilian Worker’s Party] have made it their task to squash any last vestige of the the Brazilian working-class’ own power and combativeness. Just as in 1970 when Allende started his mandate to guarantee to the Chilean bourgeoisie that their interests would not be threatened, so did Lula da Silva begin to govern in 2003 promising to businessmen and international bankers that none of their interests would run any risk in Brazil.

In effect, Lula governed to guarantee the payment of public debt, reassuring Capital a minimum of fiscal stability that would allow secure investment. None of the PT governments changed anything about the conditions of social exploitation or capitalist accumulation in Brazil. On the contrary, these governments supported a “wide national negotiation” destined to guarantee that capitalist exploitation would continue without any delay.

To this end, for the duration of the three periods of their governance PT co-opted and put under its control the majority of union and social leadership, transforming populist leaders into ministers, market assessors and investment & pensions administrators. Simultaneously, in order to maintain their base of support, the PT put itself under control of the most reactionary forces represented by agrarian capital, national & international industry entrepreneurs, the financial system and evangelical theocracy.

While governing for the landlords of Brazil, the PT managed to anesthetize social discontent with a calculated combination of social programs and repressive terror. When Lula agreed to lead the occupation mission of Haiti in 2004, he demonstrated to the United States that Brazil was a reliable ally to democratically crush social protest on the [American] continent. By bringing the Brazilian army to the slums of Haiti, he provided the troops with an experimental laboratory to later intervene in the favelas of Río de Janeiro, just as they did during the massive popular upheavals against the World Cup in 2014.

During the PT governments the production of food in Brazil declined by more than 35%, with the consequent increases of prices for the working-class due to the facilities given to the agricultural multinationals to introduce monoculture farming. 200 thousand peasants were displaced while 4 million lost their lands at the hands of large agribusiness. It was under the PT governments, and not under fascist governments, that the deforestation of the Amazon reached the “point of no return.”

It was the government of Dilma Rousseff, and not a fascist one, that reclassified roadblocks and land occupations as terrorist crimes. It was under the progressive governments, and not under fascism, that the commandos of death sowed terror among the most dispossessed of the dispossessed of the great cities of Brazil. It was under social-democratic, and not right-wing, governments that Brazilian prisons broke the world records of overcrowding and degradation of prisoner’s “life” conditions. It was under those leftists governments that the working-class and the oppressed of Brazil knew the lowest threshold of humiliation and shame. The proletariat of Brazil was defeated by democracy, not dictatorship.

Of course this is nothing new. Mussolini rose to power when the Italian proletariat had already been defeated by electoral commitments of the “popular and workers parties.” Hitler was appointed as chancellor by President Hindenburg, who had received support of the Socialists who saw in him a bulwark of democracy against Nazism. In 1973 Allende, instead of putting the representatives of the workers in key ministries, he placed the military, while the parties of the UP [Popular Unity] voted for the Law for Arms Control to disarm the working-class and deliver it to the Pinochet supporters. Fifteen years later it was the Military Junta that organized the democratic transition, fulfilling to the letter the doctrine formulated by Jaime Guzmán, who was at the same time the most democratic of the fascists and the most fascist of the democrats.

Like all fascists, Bolsonaro has simply come to bring to order business after progressive democracy has taken the Brazilian proletariat out of the game, reducing it to nothing.

Keep this in mind when you start to complain about the “arrival of fascism.” These laments are already too late. They should have been come panicked and outraged when the social democratic left disarmed the proletariat, manipulated them and anesthetized them with lies. These frightened complaints heard all over are pathetic. It only shows that those who moan have been sleeping, living in a fantasy, refusing to see the blood and shit rising under their noses, sinking little by little to the beat of electoralism and samba drummers.

In reality the arrival of fascism is never as bad as it may seem at first glance. At the very least it offers an opportunity to remove all illusions, mature and work to make things better from here on out.

La ultraderecha nunca ha accedido al poder político para derrotar a la clase trabajadora e impedir que haga la revolución. Cada vez que la ultraderecha ha llegado al poder, es porque la clase trabajadora ya había sido derrotada. ¿Por quién? Por la democracia. Por el progresismo. Por la izquierda.

Si Bolsonaro ganó las elecciones, es porque antes de su llegada tres gobiernos sucesivos del Partido de los Trabajadores se encargaron de aplastar cualquier rastro de fuerza propia y combatividad que pudiera quedarle a la clase trabajadora de Brasil. Al igual que en 1970 Allende inició su mandato garantizándole a la burguesía chilena que sus intereses no serían amenazados, asimismo Lula da Silva empezó a gobernar en 2003 prometiéndole a los grandes empresarios y banqueros internacionales que ninguno de sus intereses en Brasil correría riesgo alguno.

En efecto, Lula gobernó para garantizar el pago de la deuda pública, asegurando al capital un piso mínimo de estabilidad fiscal que le permitiese invertir con seguridad. Ninguno de los gobiernos del PT alteró en nada las condiciones de la explotación social y la acumulación capitalista en Brasil. Muy por el contrario, tales gobiernos fueron el soporte de una “amplia negociación nacional” destinada a garantizar que la explotación capitalista pudiese proseguir sin contratiempos.

Para cumplir su cometido, a lo largo de sus tres períodos de gobierno el PT cooptó y puso bajo su control a la mayoría de las dirigencias sindicales y sociales, transformando a los líderes populares en ministros, asesores de mercado, administradores de fondos de pensión e inversionistas. Simultáneamente, con tal de preservar las bases de su poder, el PT se puso a sí mismo bajo control de las fuerzas más reaccionarias representadas por el capital agrario, el empresariado de la industria nacional e internacional, el sistema financiero y la teocracia evangélica.

Mientras gobernaba para los propietarios de Brasil, el PT se las arregló para anestesiar el descontento social con una calculada combinación de programas sociales y terror represivo. Cuando Lula aceptó dirigir la Misión de ocupación de Haití en 2004, no sólo le demostró a EEUU que era un aliado confiable para aplastar democráticamente la protesta social en el continente. Al llevar al ejército brasileño a los barrios pobres de Haití, le proporcionó a las tropas un laboratorio para intervenir en las favelas de Río de Janeiro, tal como ocurrió durante las masivas agitaciones populares en contra del Mundial de Fútbol del 2014.

Durante los gobiernos del PT la producción de alimentos en Brasil disminuyó en más de 35%, con el consiguiente aumento de los precios cobrados a la clase trabajadora, debido a las facilidades dadas a las multinacionales agrarias para introducir monocultivos. 200 mil campesinos fueron desplazados mientras que 4 millones perdieron sus tierras a manos de las grandes empresas agropecuarias. Fue bajo los gobiernos del PT, y no bajo gobiernos fascistas, que la deforestación de la Amazonía alcanzó el “punto de no retorno”.

Fue el gobierno de Dilma Rousseff, y no uno fascista, el que recalificó los cortes de carreteras y las tomas de tierras como delitos terroristas. Fue bajo esos gobiernos progres, y no bajo el fascismo, que los comandos de la muerte sembraron el terror entre los más desposeídos de los desposeídos en las grandes urbes del Brasil. Fue bajo gobiernos socialdemócratas, y no de derecha, que las cárceles de Brasil batieron los récords mundiales de hacinamiento y degradación de las condiciones de “vida” de los reclusos. Fue bajo esos gobiernos de izquierda que la clase trabajadora y los oprimidos de Brasil conocieron el umbral más bajo de la humillación y la vergüenza. Al proletariado de Brasil lo derrotó la democracia, no la dictadura.

Lo cual, por cierto, no es ninguna novedad. Mussolini accedió al poder cuando el proletariado italiano ya había sido derrotado por los compromisos electorales de los “partidos obreros y populares”. Hitler fue designado como canciller por el presidente Hindenburg, quien había recibido el apoyo de los socialistas que veían en él un baluarte de la democracia contra el nazismo. En 1973 Allende, en vez de poner en los ministerios clave a representantes de los trabajadores, puso a los militares, mientras los partidos de la UP votaban una Ley de Control de Armas para desarmar a la clase trabajadora y entregársela en bandeja a las tropas pinochetistas. Quince años después, fue la Junta Militar la que organizó la transición democrática, cumpliendo al pie de la letra la doctrina formulada por Jaime Guzmán, quien fue al mismo tiempo el más democrático de los fascistas y el más fascista de los demócratas.

Como todos los fascistas, Bolsonaro ha llegado simplemente a ordenar los negocios después que la democracia progre sacó del juego al proletariado de Brasil, reduciéndolo a nada.

Tengan esto en cuenta cuando se pongan de nuevo a lloriquear por “la llegada del fascismo”. Estos lamentos llegan demasiado tarde. Tendrían que haberse lamentado así, tendrían que haber entrado en pánico y haberse indignado cuando la izquierda socialdemócrata desarmó al proletariado, lo maniató y le hizo adicto a las comodidades, a la anestesia y a las mentiras. El lloriqueo asustado que se deja oír por todas partes hoy, es patético. Sólo demuestra que quienes gimen habían estado durmiendo, viviendo en una fantasía, rehusándose a ver la sangre que brotaba frente a sus narices y la mierda en la que se hundían poco a poco, al son de elecciones y batucadas.

En realidad, la llegada del fascismo nunca es tan mala como parece a primera vista. Al menos, ofrece la oportunidad de desengañarse, madurar y hacerlo un poco mejor de aquí en adelante.

category: International
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